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Biol Blood Marrow Transplant. 2010 Mar;16(3):435-40. doi: 10.1016/j.bbmt.2009.10.022. Epub 2009 Oct 24.

Pre-engraftment syndrome after double-unit cord blood transplantation: a distinct syndrome not associated with acute graft-versus-host disease.

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Allogeneic Bone Marrow Transplantation Service, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, 1275 York Avenue, New York, NY 10065, USA.


Pre-engraftment syndrome (PES) occurring after cord blood transplantation (CBT) is poorly characterized. We reviewed 52 consecutive double-unit CBT recipients treated for high-risk hematologic malignancies. PES was defined as unexplained fever >38.3 degrees C (101 degrees F) not associated with infection and unresponsive to antimicrobials, and/or unexplained rash occurring before or at neutrophil recovery. CBT recipients (median age, 38 years; range, 3-66 years) received either myeloablative (MA; n=36) or nonmyeloablative (NMA; n=16) conditioning. Sixteen patients (31%) fulfilled PES criteria: 15 with fever (median at onset, 39 degrees C [102.2 degrees F]), 13 of whom also had rash, and 1 with rash alone. The median onset was 9 days (range, 5-12 days) posttransplantation (a median of 14 days before neutrophil recovery). Sixteen patients (14 with PES and 2 with infection and possible PES) received intravenous methylprednisolone (median dose, 1mg/kg; median duration, 3 days); 15 (94%) experienced resolution of fever within 24 hours. Recurrent PES (n=3) resolved with retreatment. There was no association between the development of PES and the likelihood of sustained donor engraftment, speed of neutrophil recovery, grade II-IV acute graft-versus-host disease (aGVHD), day-180 treatment-related mortality (TRM), or survival. PES is common after CBT, precedes neutrophil recovery, is distinct from and does not predict for aGVHD, and responds promptly to short-course corticosteroid therapy.

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