Immunosuppressive therapies in the management of immune-mediated marrow failures in adults: where we stand and where we are going


Antonio M. Risitano, Haematology, Department of Biochemistry and Medical Biotechnologies, Federico II University of Naples, Via Pansini 5, 80131 Naples, Italy. E-mail:


Immunosuppression is a key treatment strategy for aplastic anaemia (AA) and the related immune-mediated bone marrow failure syndromes (BMFS). For the last 20 years the standard immunosuppressive regimen for AA patients has been anti-thymocyte globulin (ATG) plus ciclosporin A (CyA), which results in response rates ranging between 50% and 70%, and even higher overall survival. However, primary and secondary failures after immunosuppressive therapy remain frequent, and to date all attempts aiming to overcome this problem have been unfruitful. This article reviews the state of the art of current immunosuppressive therapies for AA, focusing on open questions linked to standard immunosuppressive treatment, and on experimental immunosuppressive strategies which could lead to future improvement of current treatments. Specific immunosuppressive strategies employed for other BMFS, such as lineage-restricted marrow failures, myelodysplastic syndromes and large granular lymphocyte leukaemia-associated cytopenias, are also briefly discussed.