Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) causes most non-relapse mortality (NRM) after alternative donor (unrelated and mismatched related) hematopoietic cell transplant (HCT). We previously showed that increases in day +7 TNF-receptor-1 (TNFR1) ratios (posttransplantation day +7/pretransplantation baseline) after myeloablative HCT correlate with outcomes including GVHD, NRM, and survival. Therefore, we conducted a phase II trial at 2 centers, testing whether the addition of the TNF-inhibitor etanercept (25 mg twice weekly from start of conditioning to day +56) to standard GVHD prophylaxis would lower TNFR1 levels, reduce GVHD rates, and improve NRM and survival. Patients underwent myeloablative HCT from a matched unrelated donor (URD; N = 71), 1-antigen mismatched URD (N = 26), or 1-antigen mismatched related donor (N = 3) using either total body irradiation (TBI)-based conditioning (N = 29) or non-TBI-based conditioning (N = 71). Compared to historical controls, the increase in posttransplantation day +7 TNFR1 ratios was not altered in patients who received TBI-based conditioning, but was 40% lower in patients receiving non-TBI-based conditioning. The latter group experienced relatively low rates of severe grade 3 to 4 GVHD (14%), 1-year NRM (16%), and high 1-year survival (69%). These findings suggest that (1) the effectiveness of TNF-inhibition with etanercept may depend on the conditioning regimen, and (2) attenuating the expected rise in TNFR1 levels early posttransplantation correlates with good outcomes.
- Hematopoietic cell transplantation
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