Allogeneic bone marrow transplantation is an essential therapy for acquired aplastic anemia and prognosis has recently improved. However, engraftment failure and graft-versus-host disease are potential fatal complications. Various risk factors for poor prognosis have been identified, such as patient age and human-leukocyte antigen disparity, but the relationship between donor age and prognosis is still unknown. Therefore, we performed a cohort study to compare the prognosis of unrelated bone marrow transplantation from younger and older donors using the registry database in Japan. We evaluated 427 patients (age 16-72 years) with aplastic anemia who underwent bone marrow transplantation from younger (≤39 years, n=281) or older (≥40 years, n=146) unrelated donors. Overall survival of the older donor group was significantly inferior to that of the younger donor group (adjusted hazard ratio 1.64; 95% confidence interval 1.15-2.35; P<0.01). The incidence of fatal infection was significantly higher in the older donor group (13.7% vs. 7.5%; P=0.03). Primary engraftment failure and acute graft-versus-host disease were significantly more frequent in the older donor group (9.7% vs. 5.0%; adjusted hazard ratio 1.30; P=0.01, and 27.1% vs. 19.7%; adjusted hazard ratio 1.56; P=0.03, respectively). Acute graft-versus-host disease was related to a worse prognosis in the whole cohort. This study showed the inferiority of older donors in aplastic anemia; thus, donor age should be considered when multiple donors are available. A large-scale prospective study is warranted to establish a better donor selection algorithm for bone marrow transplantation in aplastic anemia.
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