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Blood. 1986 Jul;68(1):119-25.

Marrow transplantation for severe aplastic anemia: methotrexate alone compared with a combination of methotrexate and cyclosporine for prevention of acute graft-versus-host disease.


Forty-six patients with severe aplastic anemia (median age, 23 years) were treated with high-dose cyclophosphamide followed by infusion of marrow from an HLA-identical family member. To evaluate postgrafting prophylaxis for graft-v-host disease (GVHD), they were entered into a prospective randomized trial comparing the effect of a combination of methotrexate and cyclosporine (n = 22) to that of methotrexate alone (n = 24). Forty-four of the forty-six patients had evidence of sustained marrow engraftment. Only one patient in each of the two study groups showed graft rejection. A significant reduction in the cumulative incidence of grades II to IV acute GVHD was seen in patients given methotrexate/cyclosporine (18%) compared with those given methotrexate alone (53%) (P = .012). In three patients given methotrexate alone, grade III developed, and in six, grade IV acute GVHD developed, compared with none given methotrexate/cyclosporine. Eighteen of the 22 patients given methotrexate/cyclosporine and 15 of the 24 given methotrexate alone are alive between 5.5 and 44.5 months (median, 18 months), with actuarial survival rates at 2 years of 82% and 60%, respectively (P = .062). The incidence of fatal infections was higher in patients given methotrexate alone, whereas there are as yet no significant differences in the incidence of chronic GVHD. We conclude that methotrexate/cyclosporine treatment resulted in a significant decrease in the incidence and severity of acute GVHD in patients who received transplants for severe aplastic anemia and thus an improvement in survival.

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