How likely is graft versus host disease (GVHD) following hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) for the treatment of aplastic anemia?

Updated: Jan 29, 2021
  • Author: Sameer Bakhshi, MD; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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In the first cohorts transplanted, HCT using an unrelated donor was associated with very high mortality due to high rates of graft failure, infection, and GVHD. This poor outcome resulted primarily from the use of less stringent HLA matching in addition to the fact that these first patients had long-term disease, a history of infection, iron overload, transfusion resistance, and other related factors. However, more recent reports suggest a better outcome after unrelated transplants, an improvement that is due mainly to high-resolution HLA testing, optimization of the conditioning regimen, better supportive care, and better management of GVHD.

A retrospective study of comparative data from Japan indicated similar overall survival in children and young adults with aplastic anemia who received transplants from either a sibling or an unrelated donor, although rates of acute and chronic GVHD were significantly higher in the group receiving unrelated transplants. [80]

Due to the rates of GVHD in unrelated donor transplantation, this procedure is not preferred over immunosuppressive therapy. [47]

In unrelated donor HCT, partial T-cell depletion may decrease the risk of severe GVHD while still maintaining sufficient donor T lymphocytes to ensure engraftment. [47]

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