Hematopoietic cell transplantation for children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in second complete remission: similar outcomes in recipients of unrelated marrow and umbilical cord blood versus marrow from HLA matched sibling donors

Angela R Smith, K Scott Baker, Todd E Defor, Michael R Verneris, John E Wagner, Margaret L Macmillan
Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation 2009, 15 (9): 1086-93
Transplant decisions for children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in second complete remission (CR2) are often based on the type of available donor. In many cases, allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) is considered only if a human leukocyte antigen (HLA) matched sibling donor (MSD) is available. The role of unrelated donor (URD) HCT in this patient population is not well established. As advances in supportive care and donor selection have improved, the use of URD HCT in such patients should be reevaluated. We analyzed the outcomes of 87 consecutive children with ALL in CR2 who underwent allogeneic HCT at the University of Minnesota between 1990 and 2007. Donor sources included MSD bone marrow (n = 32), well and partially matched (M, n = 18) and mismatched (MM, n = 16) URD bone marrow and URD umbilical cord blood (UCB, n = 21). Although the incidence of neutrophil recovery was similar in all groups, the overall incidence of grades II-IV acute graft-versus-host disease (aGVHD) and chronic GVHD (cGVHD) was 37% and 9%, respectively, with a higher incidence of aGVHD in recipients of URD grafts. Leukemia-free survival (LFS) at 5 years was lower in recipients of MM-URD grafts, but was comparable in all other groups. Although relapse at 5 years was highest in recipients of MSD (50%), results were not significantly different compared to recipients of M-URD (17%), MM-URD (6%), and UCB (33%) (P = .17). The development of grades II-IV aGVHD and a first remission >3 years were associated with a lower risk of relapse (relative risk [RR] 0.2, P = .03; RR 0.2. P = .01 respectively). Together, these results support the continued investigation of URD HCT for ALL in CR2, and suggest the timing of HCT in these children should be based primarily on the risk of relapse with conventional chemotherapy and not on the type of donor available.

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