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Blood. 2002 Dec 15;100(13):4337-43. Epub 2002 Aug 1.

Multi-institutional use of defibrotide in 88 patients after stem cell transplantation with severe veno-occlusive disease and multisystem organ failure: response without significant toxicity in a high-risk population and factors predictive of outcome.

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  • 1Department of Adult Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Veno-occlusive disease (VOD) is the most common regimen-related toxicity accompanying stem cell transplantation (SCT). Severe VOD complicated by multisystem organ failure (MOF) remains almost uniformly fatal. Preliminary experience with defibrotide (DF), a single-stranded polydeoxyribonucleotide with fibrinolytic, antithrombotic, and anti-ischemic properties, in the treatment for severe VOD has suggested safety and activity. Eighty-eight patients who developed severe VOD after SCT were treated with DF under a defined treatment plan. At diagnosis, median bilirubin was 76.95 microM (4.5 mg/dL), median weight gain was 7%, ascites was present in 84%, and abnormal hepatic portal venous flow was present in 35%. At DF initiation, median bilirubin had increased to 215.46 microM (12.6 mg/dL), and MOF was present in 97%. DF was administered intravenously in doses ranging from 5 to 60 mg/kg per day for a median of 15 days. No severe hemorrhage or other serious toxicity related to DF was reported. Complete resolution of VOD was seen in 36%, with 35% survival at day +100. Predictors of survival included younger age, autologous SCT, and abnormal portal flow, whereas busulfan-based conditioning and encephalopathy predicted worse outcome. Decreases in mean creatinine and plasminogen activator inhibitor 1(PAI-1) levels during DF therapy predicted better survival. The complete response rate, survival to day +100, and absence of significant DF-associated toxicity in this largest patient cohort reported to date confirm the results of earlier studies. Certain features associated with successful outcome may correlate with DF-related treatment effects, and prospective evaluation of DF therapy for severe VOD should allow better definition of predictors of response or failure.

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