To investigate clinical features of acute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) following reduced intensity stem-cell transplantation (RIST), we retrospectively investigated medical records of 65 patients with hematologic malignancies who underwent RIST from a matched related donor. Preparative regimen comprised fludarabine 30 mg/m2 (n = 53) or cladribine 0.11 mg/kg (n = 12) for 6 days plus busulfan 4 mg/kg for 2 days. Twelve patients received rabbit antithymocyte globulin 2.5 mg/kg/day for 2-4 consecutive days. Grade II to IV acute GVHD was diagnosed in 36 patients (55%). Its median onset was day 58 (range, 17-109), while it was bimodal, peaking day 15-29 (early-onset GVHD, n = 18) and day 75-89 days (late-onset GVHD, n = 18). Variables that were more common in early-onset GVHD than late-onset GVHD included skin rash (89% vs. 61%) and noninfectious fevers (33% vs. 11%). Desaturation, pulmonary infiltrates and hyperbilirubinemia (>2.0 mg/dL) were more common in late-onset GVHD (6% vs. 22%, 0% vs. 17%, and 6% vs. 33%, respectively). All of the patients with early-onset GVHD given corticosteroid responded to it, while 5 of the 18 patients with late-onset GVHD failed to respond it. Patients with either early-onset or late-onset GVHD tended to have better progression-free survival (PFS) than those without it; however, there was no significant difference in PFS between patients with early-onset GVHD and those with late-onset GVHD. This study suggests that several etiologies might have contributed to the development of acute GVHD following RIST.
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