A high antithymocyte globulin dose increases the risk of relapse after reduced intensity conditioning HSCT with unrelated donors

Mats Remberger, Olle Ringdén, Hans Hägglund, Britt-Marie Svahn, Per Ljungman, Michael Uhlin, Jonas Mattsson
Clinical Transplantation 2013, 27 (4): E368-74
The study included 110 consecutive patients with hematological malignancies receiving fludarabine-based reduced intensity conditioning (RIC) and hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) from matched unrelated donors. The median age was 55 yr (range 11-68) and all but 15 patients received peripheral blood stem cell grafts. Antithymocyte globulin (ATG) (Thymoglobulin, Genzyme) at a total dose of 6 mg/kg (n = 66) or 8 mg/kg (n = 44) was given to all patients according to protocol. The ATG dose did not affect time-to-neutrophil or platelet engraftment. The incidences of acute GVHD grades II-IV were 34% and 18% (p = 0.11) and of chronic GVHD were 40% and 26% (p = 0.46) in patients receiving 6 and 8 mg/kg of ATG, respectively. The five-yr relapse-free survival (RFS) was 61% and 36% (p = 0.14) in patients, given low and high ATG dose, respectively. In patients given low-dose ATG, the incidence of relapse was lower compared to those given high-dose ATG, 19% vs. 41% (p = 0.04). In multivariate analysis, age >50 yr (p < 0.001), absence of acute (p < 0.001) and chronic GVHD (p = 0.001) were correlated to relapse, and low-dose ATG was associated with improved RFS (p < 0.05). A high dose (8 mg/kg) of ATG in RIC HSCT with unrelated donors increased the risk for relapse and reduced the RFS.

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