We report on 109 patients with hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) undergoing 126 procedures of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) between 2000 and 2014 in centers associated with the Italian Pediatric Hematology Oncology Association. Genetic diagnosis was FHL2 (32%), FHL3 (33%), or other defined disorders known to cause HLH (15%); in the remaining patients no genetic abnormality was found. Donor for first transplant was an HLA-matched sibling for 25 patients (23%), an unrelated donor for 73 (67%), and an HLA-partially matched family donor for 11 children (10%). Conditioning regimen was busulfan-based for 61 patients (56%), treosulfan-based for 21 (20%), and fludarabine-based for 26 children (24%). The 5-year probabilities of overall survival (OS) and event-free survival (EFS) were 71% and 60%, respectively. Twenty-six patients (24%) died due to transplant-related causes, whereas 14 (13%) and 10 (9%) patients experienced graft rejection and/or relapse, respectively. Twelve of 14 children given a second HSCT after graft failure/relapse are alive and disease-free. Use of HLA-partially matched family donors was associated with higher risk of graft failure and thus with lower EFS (but not with lower OS) in multivariable analysis. Active disease at transplantation did not significantly affect prognosis. These data confirm that HSCT can cure most HLH patients, active disease not precluding successful transplantation. Because in HLH patients HLA-haploidentical HSCT performed through CD34+ cell positive selection was found to be associated with poor sustained engraftment of donor cells, innovative approaches able to guarantee a more robust engraftment are warranted in patients given this type of allograft.
- Allogeneic HSCT
- Graft failure
- Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis
- Second allograft
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