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Haematologica. 2012 Dec;97(12):1882-9. doi: 10.3324/haematol.2012.067140. Epub 2012 Jun 11.

A randomized phase II study to evaluate tacrolimus in combination with sirolimus or methotrexate after allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation.

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  • 1Blood and Marrow Transplantation, Moffitt Cancer Center, 12902 Magnolia Drive, FOB 3308, Tampa, FL 33612, USA.



There is evidence suggesting that sirolimus, in combination with tacrolimus, is active in the prevention of graft-versus-host disease. Sirolimus-based immune suppression may suppress alloreactive T cells, while sparing the survival and function of regulatory T cells.


We conducted a randomized trial to compare the impact of sirolimus/tacrolimus against that of methotrexate/tacrolimus on the prevention of graft-versus-host disease and regulatory T-cell reconstitution.


Seventy-four patients were randomized 1:1 to sirolimus/tacrolimus or methotrexate/tacrolimus, stratified for type of donor (sibling or unrelated) and the patients' age. The rate of grade II-IV acute graft-versus-host disease at 100 days was 43% (95% CI: 27-59%) in the sirolimus/tacrolimus group and 89% (95% CI: 72-96%) in the methotrexate/tacrolimus group (P<0.001). The rate of moderate/severe chronic graft-versus-host disease was 24% (95% CI: 7-47%) in the sirolimus/tacrolimus group and 64% (95% CI: 41-79%) in the methotrexate/tacrolimus group (P=0.008). Overall survival and patient-reported quality of life did not differ between the two groups. On days 30 and 90 post-transplant, sirolimus-treated patients had a significantly greater proportion of regulatory T cells among the CD4(+) cells in the peripheral blood, and isolated regulatory T cells were functional.


These data demonstrate that sirolimus/tacrolimus prevents grade II-IV acute graft-versus-host disease and moderate-severe chronic graft-versus-host disease more effectively than does methotrexate/tacrolimus, and supports regulatory T-cell reconstitution following allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation.


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