Mesenchymal stromal cell (MSC) infusions have been reported to be effective in patients with steroid-refractory, acute graft-versus-host disease (aGvHD) but comprehensive data on paediatric patients are limited. We retrospectively analysed a cohort of 37 children (aged 3 months-17 years) treated with MSCs for steroid-refractory grade III-IV aGvHD. All patients but three received multiple MSC infusions. Complete response (CR) was observed in 24 children (65%), while 13 children had either partial (n = 8) or no response (n = 5). Cumulative incidence of transplantation-related mortality (TRM) in patients who did or did not achieve CR was 17% and 69%, respectively (P = 0·001). After a median follow-up of 2·9 years, overall survival (OS) was 37%; it was 65% vs. 0% in patients who did or did not achieve CR, respectively (P = 0·001). The median time from starting steroids for GvHD treatment to first MSC infusion was 13 d (range 5-85). Children treated between 5 and 12 d after steroid initiation showed a trend for better OS (56%) and lower TRM (17%) as compared with patients receiving MSCs 13-85 d after steroids (25% and 53%, respectively; P = 0·22 and 0·06, respectively). Multiple MSC infusions are safe and effective for children with steroid-refractory aGvHD, especially when employed early in the disease course.
- Haematopoietic stem cell transplantation in children
- Mesenchymal stromal cells
- Steroid-refractory acute graft-versus-host disease
- Transplantation-related mortality
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