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Keywords:

  • stem cell transplantation;
  • acute GVHD;
  • interleukin-2 receptor;
  • basiliximab

Summary

Acute graft-versus-host disease (aGVHD) occurs in up to 80% of patients who undergo allogeneic stem cell transplantation (SCT) and contributes significantly to transplant-related mortality (TRM). We conducted a prospective phase II trial to assess the efficacy and feasibility of treating steroid-refractory aGVHD with basiliximab, a chimaeric monoclonal antibody directed against the alpha chain of the interleukin-2 (IL-2) receptor. Basiliximab was administered intravenously at a dose of 20 mg on days 1 and 4. Twenty-three patients were enrolled between October 1999 and July 2004. We found a primary overall response rate of 82·5% with four patients (17·5%) showing a complete response and 15 patients (65%) a partial response. Six patients were again treated successfully with an IL-2 receptor antagonist because of recurrence of aGVHD. The rates of infections, chronic GVHD, malignancy recurrence and 1-year TRM following immunosuppression with basiliximab were comparable with those found with other treatment modalities for aGVHD. We conclude that basiliximab is efficient and feasible for steroid-refractory aGVHD and merits further evaluation.