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Bone Marrow Transplant. 2005 Jun;35(12):1187-93.

Prospective study of extracorporeal photopheresis in steroid-refractory or steroid-resistant extensive chronic graft-versus-host disease: analysis of response and survival incorporating prognostic factors.

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Bone Marrow Transplantation Program, Hematology Oncology Division, Tufts New England Medical Center, Boston 02111, USA.


We enrolled 25 patients with extensive, steroid-refractory chronic graft-versus-host disease (cGVHD) in a prospective trial evaluating the efficacy of extracorporeal photophoresis (ECP) in both skin and visceral cGVHD. The median time from transplant to initiation of ECP was 790 days. ECP was administered for 2 consecutive days every 2 weeks in 17 patients and once a week in eight patients until best response or stable disease. The median duration of therapy was 9 months (range 3-24 months). In all, 20 patients had improvement in cutaneous GVHD and six had healing of oral ulcerations. Steroid sparing or discontinuation of immunosuppressive medications was possible in 80% of patients. Response rates were similar between patients receiving treatment weekly vs every 2 weeks and in patients commencing ECP less than vs greater than 18 months from transplant (70 vs 66%). When patients were stratified based on the Akpek prognostic score, there was no difference in overall response between the favorable (Akpek score<2.5) and unfavorable risk groups, but patients with progressive onset cGVHD tended to have a higher response than those with de novo onset. In summary, we report improvement in skin and/or visceral cGVHD in 71% overall and 61% of high-risk patients.

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