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Blood. 1998 Nov 15;92(10):3505-14.

Treatment of autoimmune disease by intense immunosuppressive conditioning and autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.

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Departments of Medicine, Neurology, Nephrology, and Rheumatology, Division of Hematology/Oncology & Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center, Northwestern University Medical School and Robert H. Lurie Cancer Center, Chicago, IL, USA.


Multiple sclerosis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and rheumatoid arthritis are immune-mediated diseases that are responsive to suppression or modulation of the immune system. For patients with severe disease, immunosuppression may be intensified to the point of myelosuppression or hematopoietic ablation. Hematopoiesis and immunity may then be rapidly reconstituted by reinfusion of CD34(+) progenitor cells. In 10 patients with these autoimmune diseases, autologous hematopoietic stem cells were collected from bone marrow or mobilized from peripheral blood with either granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) or cyclophosphamide and G-CSF. Stem cells were enriched ex vivo using CD34(+) selection and reinfused after either myelosuppressive conditioning with cyclophosphamide (200 mg/kg), methylprednisolone (4 g) and antithymocyte globulin (ATG; 90 mg/kg) or myeloablative conditioning with total body irradiation (1,200 cGy), methylprednisolone (4 g), and cyclophosphamide (120 mg/kg). Six patients with multiple sclerosis, 2 with systemic lupus erythematosus, and 2 with rheumatoid arthritis have undergone hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Mean time to engraftment of an absolute neutrophil count greater than 500/microL (0.5 x 10(9)/L) and a nontransfused platelet count greater than 20,000/microL (20 x 10(9)/L) occurred on day 10 and 14, respectively. Regimen-related nonhematopoietic toxicity was minimal. All patients improved and/or had stabilization of disease with a follow-up of 5 to 17 months (median, 11 months). We conclude that intense immunosuppressive conditioning and autologous T-cell-depleted hematopoietic transplantation was safely used to treat these 10 patients with severe autoimmune disease. Although durability of response is as yet unknown, all patients have demonstrated stabilization or improvement.

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