Extracorporeal photopheresis: cellular therapy for the treatment of acute and chronic graft-versus-host disease

Schneiderman, J.

Hematology Am Soc Hematol Educ Program. 2017 Dec 10; 2017(1):639-644


Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) is a potentially curative option for many disease states. Despite significant improvements in strategies used to prevent and treat acute and chronic graft-versus-host disease (a/cGVHD), they continue to negatively affect outcomes of HSCT significantly. Standard, first-line treatment consists of corticosteroids; beyond this, there is little consistency in therapeutic regimens. Current options include the addition of various immunosuppressive agents, the use of which puts patients at even higher risks for infection and other morbidities. Extracorporeal photopheresis (ECP) is a widely used cellular therapy currently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for use in patients with cutaneous T-cell lymphoma; it involves the removal of peripherally circulating white blood cells, addition of a light sensitizer, exposure to UV light, and return of the cells to the patient. This results in a series of events ultimately culminating in transition from an inflammatory state to that of tolerance, without global immunosuppression or known long-term adverse effects. Large-scale, prospective studies of the use of ECP in patients with a/cGVHD are necessary in order to develop the optimal treatment regimens.

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