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Clin Dev Immunol. 2012;2012:380391. doi: 10.1155/2012/380391. Epub 2012 Aug 30.

Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation for systemic lupus erythematosus.

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Division of Hematology and Stem Cell Transplantation, IRCCS Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria San Martino-IST, Genoa, Italy.


Two streams of research are at the origin of the utilization of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) for severe autoimmune diseases (SADs). The allogeneic approach came from experimental studies on lupus mice, besides clinical results in coincidental diseases. The autologous procedure was encouraged by researches on experimental neurological and rheumatic disorders. At present the number of allogeneic HSCT performed for human SADs can be estimated to not over 100 patients, and the results are not greatly encouraging, considering the significant transplant-related mortality (TRM) and the occasional development of a new autoimmune disorder and/or relapses notwithstanding full donor chimerism. Autologous HSCT for refractory SLE has become a major target. Severe cases have been salvaged, TRM is low and diminishing, and prolonged clinical remissions are obtainable. Two types of immune resetting have been established, "re-education" and regulatory T cell (Tregs) normalization. Allogeneic HSCT for SLE seems best indicated for patients with disease complicated by an oncohematologic malignancy. Autologous HSCT is a powerful salvage therapy for otherwise intractable SLE. The duration of remission in uncertain, but a favorable response to previously inactive treatments is a generally constant feature. The comparison with new biological agents, or the combination of both, are to be ascertained.

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