T cell depletion (TCD) of marrow is a proven method of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) prophylaxis in allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (BMT). Nonetheless, TCD is associated with an increased risk of developing post transplant lymphoproliferative disorder (PTLD). Between 1986 and 1998, 241 pediatric patients at the University of Iowa underwent BMT using ex vivo TCD of marrow from mismatched related or matched unrelated donors. Additional GVHD prophylaxis included anti-thymocyte globulin (ATG) or anti lymphocyte globulin (ALG) post transplant (in vivo TCD). A total of 30 cases of PTLD were identified based upon a combination of clinical, histological, and immunological features. Nearly all cases occurred within 3 months post BMT. A statistically significant increase in PTLD incidence was noted for patients treated with ATG vs ALG (33 vs 9%). While grade I-II acute GVHD was more common in patients receiving ATG vs ALG, no difference in grade III-IV GVHD or overall survival was noted between the two groups. Assessment of immune recovery at various times post BMT revealed significantly fewer T cells in the ATG-treated group, suggesting the deleterious effect of ATG may be due to excessive depletion of donor-derived Epstein-Barr virus-specific cytotoxic T cells. Thus, caution should be exercised in the use of anti-T-cell antibody therapy for additional GVHD prophylaxis in the setting of TCD BMT.
- Anti-thymocyte globulin
- Bone marrow transplantation
- Post transplant lymphoproliferative disorders
- T-cell depletion
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