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Bone Marrow Transplant. 2008 Nov;42(9):569-79. doi: 10.1038/bmt.2008.259. Epub 2008 Aug 18.

Donor lymphocyte infusions: the long and winding road: how should it be traveled?

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Adult Blood and Marrow Transplant Program, Hematology, Oncology and Transplantation, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA.


Donor lymphocyte infusions (DLI) often are used after allo-SCT to augment the graft-versus-tumor effect. Timing of infusion varies according to indication, for example to treat tumor recurrence, as a planned strategy to prevent disease relapse in the setting of T-cell-depleted grafts or non-myeloablative conditioning regimens, or as a method to convert mixed to full donor chimerism. The optimal strategy of timing, use of cytotoxic conditioning, cell dose and cell product composition, and so on, for DLI administration remains unclear. Despite varied techniques, DLI may lead to 3-year disease-free survivals (DFS) in excess of 60% for all CML patients and approach 90% in patients with only molecular or cytogenetic relapse. Other hematologic malignancies appear much less responsive, as less than 50% of patients respond and provide, at best, 3-year DFS rates of 20-50%. Multiple myeloma patients have overall response rates of 40-45% after DLI, suggesting benefit in relapsed disease, but limited experiences for diseases such as Hodgkin's lymphoma, myelodysplasia and ALL preclude recommendations for use of DLI at this time. Regardless of the indication, treatment-related mortality after DLI is 5-20% and more than one-third of patients will develop acute and/or chronic GVHD after DLI. The risks of these complications appear related, in part, to donor source, cell dose and therapy prior to DLI. Although there are no definitive answers, the information gleaned from published literature suggests that DLI should be administered early after relapse or as a prophylactic strategy in patients receiving T-cell-depleted grafts, and patients with bulky or aggressive disease may benefit from disease reduction prior to DLI.

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