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Biol Blood Marrow Transplant. 2004 May;10(5):328-36.

Sirolimus and tacrolimus without methotrexate as graft-versus-host disease prophylaxis after matched related donor peripheral blood stem cell transplantation.

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Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Methotrexate in combination with a calcineurin inhibitor is a standard graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) prophylactic regimen in allogeneic stem cell transplantation. However, methotrexate is associated with delayed engraftment, mucositis, idiopathic pneumonia syndrome, and other transplant-related complications. Sirolimus, a novel immunosuppressant without methotrexate's toxicities, has been used successfully in solid organ transplantation. We hypothesized that replacing methotrexate with sirolimus would preserve effective prophylaxis of GVHD while minimizing transplant-related toxicity after allogeneic peripheral blood stem cell transplantation. We enrolled 30 patients in a phase II study to test the efficacy of tacrolimus in combination with sirolimus in lieu of methotrexate in preventing GVHD after allogeneic peripheral blood stem cell transplantation from HLA-matched related donors. Grade II GVHD occurred in 3 patients (10%), and no patient developed grade III or IV GVHD. Neutrophil and platelet engraftment were prompt, occurring on days 14 and 13, respectively. All patients survived to hospital discharge (median, 18 days), and peritransplantation toxicity was mild. Four patients developed thrombotic microangiopathy, and 3 patients developed hepatic veno-occlusive disease. Chronic GVHD occurred in 11 patients. Relapse-free and overall survival at 100 days were 93% and 97%, respectively, and were 71% and 67% at 1 year. Causes of death included relapse (n = 6), veno-occlusive disease (n = 1), and late pulmonary toxicity (n = 1). Sirolimus in combination with tacrolimus is a promising alternative to methotrexate-based regimens for GVHD prophylaxis after matched related donor peripheral blood stem cell transplantation. Mucositis was modest, engraftment was prompt, and transplant-related toxicity was modest. Methotrexate-free, sirolimus-based GVHD prophylactic regimens should be tested in randomized trials against the current standard of care.

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