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Biol Blood Marrow Transplant. 2007 Jun;13(6):701-6.

Sirolimus as part of immunosuppressive therapy for refractory chronic graft-versus-host disease.

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  • 1Department of Hematology, Hospital Virgen de las Nieves, Granada, Spain.


Many patients receiving allogeneic stem cells develop chronic graft-versus-host disease (cGVHD), which remains as the main cause of morbidity and mortality. Although the first line of therapy is generally with steroids, it is not well known how to manage refractory cases. Those patients are usually treated with alternative experimental agents. Sirolimus (Rapamycin), a new immunosuppressive agent, inhibits signal transduction and cell cycle progression after binding to FKBP12. We report a retrospective analysis with sirolimus in transplant recipients with cGVHD refractory to previous immunosuppressive therapy. Forty-seven patients with refractory or relapsed cGVHD were treated with the combination of sirolimus and calcineurin inhibitors (n = 33), mycophenolate (n = 9), or prednisone (n = 5). Thirty-eight of 47 (81%) patients had clinical responses (complete = 18, partial = 20). The main toxicity was mild renal failure, particularly at the start of therapy. Four patients who presented thrombotic microangiopathy were managed with plasmapheresis and the discontinuation of sirolimus and calcineurin inhibitors. Statistical analysis showed the type of cGVHD onset and presirolimus clinical status as the main variables influencing the response to treatment. The Kaplan-Meier estimate of survival was 57.4% at 3 years. The current study shows the efficacy and safety of sirolimus in refractory cGVHD patients. Further investigation is warranted to elucidate the role of sirolimus in cGVHD, and find the best combination (sirolimus + calcineurin inhibitors versus others) for therapeutic use.

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