Infectious risks and outcomes after stem cell transplantation: Are nonmyeloablative transplants changing the picture?

Christian Junghanss, Kieren A. Marr

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Purpose of review: Opportunistic infections contribute to morbidity and mortality after myeloablative allogeneic stem cell transplantation. The development of nonmyeloablative or toxicity-reduced conditioning regimens for allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation might change this picture significantly. These regimens are in general highly immunosuppressive, but effects on myelopoiesis and mucosal toxicities are usually reduced compared with myeloablative hematopoietic stem cell transplantation conditioning regimens. This review summarizes the infectious risks associated with each type of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation conditioning regimen, and presents the results of early clinical studies. Recent findings: Although the data are preliminary, the results of recent studies suggest that nonmyeloablative conditioning regimens may decrease the risks of bacterial infections associated with mucosal damage and persistent neutropenia; however, risks for late viral and fungal infections persist during severe graft versus host disease. Results of several case reports and series emphasize that therapeutic outcomes of infections may be improved in patients who receive nonmyeloablative conditioning regimens. Summary: Infectious risks and outcomes after hematopoietic stem cell transplantation appear to be in evolution given the introduction of alternative, nonmyeloablative conditioning regimens. Although infections remain a prominent cause of transplant-related mortality, the timing and types of infections may differ. Further studies are necessary to define appropriate preventative strategies, and to determine whether patients with ongoing infections might benefit from nonmyeloablative hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)347-353
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent opinion in infectious diseases
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Conditioning chemotherapy
  • Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation
  • Infection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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