Prophylaxis and management of graft versus host disease after stem-cell transplantation for haematological malignancies: updated consensus recommendations of the European Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation

Olaf Penack*, Monia Marchetti, Tapani Ruutu, Mahmoud Aljurf, Andrea Bacigalupo, Francesca Bonifazi, Fabio Ciceri, Jan Cornelissen, Ram Malladi, Rafael F. Duarte, Sebastian Giebel, Hildegard Greinix, Ernst Holler, Anita Lawitschka, Stephan Mielke, Mohamad Mohty, Mutlu Arat, Arnon Nagler, Jakob Passweg, Hélène SchoemansGerard Socié, Carlos Solano, Radovan Vrhovac, Robert Zeiser, Nicolaus Kröger, Grzegorz W. Basak

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

315 Scopus citations


Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) is a major factor contributing to mortality and morbidity after allogeneic stem-cell transplantation. Because of the small number of results from well designed, large-scale, clinical studies there is considerable variability in the prevention and treatment of GVHD worldwide. In 2014, to standardise treatment approaches the European Society of Blood and Marrow Transplantation published recommendations on the management of GVHD in the setting of HLA-identical sibling or unrelated donor transplantation in adult patients with haematological malignancies. Here we update these recommendations including the results of study published after 2014. Evidence was searched in three steps: first, a widespread scan of published trials, meta-analyses, and systematic reviews; second, expert opinion was added for specific issues following several rounds of debate; and third, a refined search to target debated or rapidly updating issues. On the basis of this evidence and the 2014 recommendations, five members of the EBMT Transplant Complications Working Party created 38 statements on GVHD prophylaxis, drug management, and treatment of acute and chronic GVHD. Subsequently, they created the EBMT GVHD management recommendation expert panel by recruiting 20 experts with expertise in GVHD management. An email-based, two-round Delphi panel approach was used to manage the consensus. Modified National Comprehensive Cancer Network categories for evidence and consensus were applied to the approved statements. We reached 100% consensus for 29 recommendations and 95% consensus for nine recommendations. Key updates to these recommendations include a broader use of rabbit anti-T-cell globulin; lower steroid doses for the management of grade 2 acute GVHD with isolated skin or upper gastrointestinal tract manifestations; fluticasone, azithromycin, and montelukast should be used for bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome; and the addition of newer treatment options for resteroid-refractory acute and chronic GVHD. In addition, we discuss specific aspects of GVHD prophylaxis and management in the setting of haploidentical transplantation and in paediatric patients, but no formal recommendations on those procedures have been provided in this Review. The European Society of Blood and Marrow Transplantation proposes to use these recommendations as a basis for the routine management of GVHD during stem-cell transplantation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e157-e167
JournalThe Lancet Haematology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2020
Externally publishedYes


FundersFunder number
StiftungGvHD 01/2019
European Research Council681012
Deutsche ForschungsgemeinschaftSFB1160 TP B09, TRR167
Deutsche Krebshilfe70111519, 03R2019, 11R2016


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