Allogeneic stem cell transplantation (allo-SCT) is the most successful and widely used immunotherapy for the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), as a result of its anti-leukemic properties driven by T cells and natural killer (NK) cells, leading to a graft-vs-leukemia (GVL) effect. Despite its essential role in AML treatment, relapse after allo-SCT is common and associated with a poor prognosis. There is longstanding interest in developing immunologic strategies to augment the GVL effect post-transplant to prevent relapse and improve outcomes. In addition to prophylactic maintenance strategies, the GVL effect can also be used in relapsed patients to reinduce remission. While immune checkpoint inhibitors and other novel immune-targeted agents have been successfully used in the post-transplant setting to augment the GVL effect and induce remission in small clinical trials of relapsed patients, exacerbations of graft-vs-host disease (GVHD) have limited their broader use. Here we review advances in three areas of immunotherapy that have been studied in post-transplant AML: donor lymphocyte infusion (DLI), immune checkpoint inhibitors, and other monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), including antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) and ligand receptor antagonists. We also discuss additional therapies with proposed immunologic mechanisms, such as hypomethylating agents, histone deacetylase inhibitors, and the FLT3 inhibitor sorafenib.
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