Antilymphocyte globulin for prevention of chronic graft-versus-host disease

Nicolaus Kröger*, Carlos Solano, Christine Wolschke, Giuseppe Bandini, Francesca Patriarca, Massimo Pini, Arnon Nagler, Carmine Selleri, Antonio Risitano, Giuseppe Messina, Wolfgang Bethge, Jaime Pérez De Oteiza, Rafael Duarte, Angelo Michele Carella, Michele Cimminiello, Stefano Guidi, Jürgen Finke, Nicola Mordini, Christelle Ferra, Jorge SierraDomenico Russo, Mario Petrini, Giuseppe Milone, Fabio Benedetti, Marion Heinzelmann, Domenico Pastore, Manuel Jurado, Elisabetta Terruzzi, Franco Narni, Andreas Völp, Francis Ayuk, Tapani Ruutu, Francesca Bonifazi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND Chronic graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) is the leading cause of later illness and death after allogeneic hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation. We hypothesized that the inclusion of antihuman T-lymphocyte immune globulin (ATG) in a myeloablative conditioning regimen for patients with acute leukemia would result in a significant reduction in chronic GVHD 2 years after allogeneic peripheral-blood stem-cell transplantation from an HLA-identical sibling. METHODS We conducted a prospective, multicenter, open-label, randomized phase 3 study of ATG as part of a conditioning regimen. A total of 168 patients were enrolled at 27 centers. Patients were randomly assigned in a 1:1 ratio to receive ATG or not receive ATG, with stratification according to center and risk of disease. RESULTS After a median follow-up of 24 months, the cumulative incidence of chronic GVHD was 32.2% (95% confidence interval [CI], 22.1 to 46.7) in the ATG group and 68.7% (95% CI, 58.4 to 80.7) in the non-ATG group (P<0.001). The rate of 2-year relapse-free survival was similar in the ATG group and the non-ATG group (59.4% [95% CI, 47.8 to 69.2] and 64.6% [95% CI, 50.9 to 75.3], respectively; P = 0.21), as was the rate of overall survival (74.1% [95% CI, 62.7 to 82.5] and 77.9% [95% CI, 66.1 to 86.1], respectively; P = 0.46). There were no significant between-group differences in the rates of relapse, infectious complications, acute GVHD, or adverse events. The rate of a composite end point of chronic GVHD-free and relapse-free survival at 2 years was significantly higher in the ATG group than in the non-ATG group (36.6% vs. 16.8%, P = 0.005). CONCLUSIONS The inclusion of ATG resulted in a significantly lower rate of chronic GVHD after allogeneic transplantation than the rate without ATG. The survival rate was similar in the two groups, but the rate of a composite end point of chronic GVHD-free survival and relapsefree survival was higher with ATG. (Funded by the Neovii Biotech and the European Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation; number, NCT00678275.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-53
Number of pages11
JournalNew England Journal of Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - 7 Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes


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