BACKGROUND: Myeloablative allogeneic hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation is curative in children with sickle cell disease, but in adults the procedure is unduly toxic. Graft rejection and graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) are additional barriers to its success. We performed nonmyeloablative stem-cell transplantation in adults with sickle cell disease. METHODS: Ten adults (age range, 16 to 45 years) with severe sickle cell disease underwent non-myeloablative transplantation with CD34+ peripheral-blood stem cells, mobilized by granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF), which were obtained from HLA-matched siblings. The patients received 300 cGy of total-body irradiation plus alemtuzumab before transplantation, and sirolimus was administered afterward. RESULTS: All 10 patients were alive at a median follow-up of 30 months after transplantation (range, 15 to 54). Nine patients had long-term, stable donor lymphohematopoietic engraftment at levels that sufficed to reverse the sickle cell disease phenotype. Mean (±SE) donor-recipient chimerism for T cells (CD3+) and myeloid cells (CD14+15+) was 53.3±8.6% and 83.3±10.3%, respectively, in the nine patients whose grafts were successful. Hemoglobin values before transplantation and at the last follow-up assessment were 9.0±0.3 and 12.6±0.5 g per deciliter, respectively. Serious adverse events included the narcotic-withdrawal syndrome and sirolimus-associated pneumonitis and arthralgia. Neither acute nor chronic GVHD developed in any patient. CONCLUSIONS: A protocol for nonmyeloablative allogeneic hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation that includes total-body irradiation and treatment with alemtuzumab and sirolimus can achieve stable, mixed donor-recipient chimerism and reverse the sickle cell phenotype. (ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00061568.).
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