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Blood. 1998 Oct 1;92(7):2303-14.

Phase III study comparing methotrexate and tacrolimus (prograf, FK506) with methotrexate and cyclosporine for graft-versus-host disease prophylaxis after HLA-identical sibling bone marrow transplantation.

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  • 1University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA, USA. vratanat@umich.edu


We report the results of a phase III open-label, randomized, multicenter trial comparing tacrolimus/methotrexate to cyclosporine/methotrexate for graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) prophylaxis after HLA-identical sibling marrow transplantation in patients with hematologic malignancy. The primary objective of this study was to compare the incidence of moderate to severe (grade II-IV) acute GVHD. Secondary objectives were to compare the relapse rate, disease-free survival, overall survival, and the incidence of chronic GVHD. Patients were stratified according to age (<40 v >/=40) and for male recipients of a marrow graft from an alloimmunized female. There was a significantly greater proportion of patients with advanced disease randomized to tacrolimus arm (P = . 02). The incidence of grade II-IV acute GVHD was significantly lower in patients who received tacrolimus than patients in the cyclosporine group (31.9% and 44.4%, respectively; P = .01). The incidence of grade III-IV acute GVHD was similar, 17.1% in cyclosporine group and 13.3% in the tacrolimus group. There was no difference in the incidence of chronic GVHD between the tacrolimus and the cyclosporine group (55.9% and 49.4%, respectively; P = .8). However, there was a significantly higher proportion of patients in the cyclosporine group who had clinical extensive chronic GVHD (P = . 03). The relapse rates of the two groups were similar. The patients in the cyclosporine arm had a significantly better 2-year disease-free survival and overall survival than patients in the tacrolimus arm, 50.4% versus 40.5% (P = .01) and 57.2% versus 46.9% (P = .02), respectively. The significant difference in the overall and disease-free survival was largely the result of the patients with advanced disease, 24.8% with tacrolimus versus 41.7% with cyclosporine (P = .006) and 20.4% with tacrolimus versus 28% with cyclosporine (P = .007), respectively. There was a higher frequency of deaths from regimen-related toxicity in patients with advanced disease who received tacrolimus. There was no difference in the disease-free and overall survival in patients with nonadvanced disease. These results show the superiority of tacrolimus/methotrexate over cyclosporine/methotrexate in the prevention of grade II-IV acute GVHD with no difference in disease-free or overall survival in patients with nonadvanced disease. The survival disadvantage in advanced disease patients receiving tacrolimus warrants further investigation.

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