Extracorporeal Photopheresis in the Treatment of Acute Graft-Versus-Host Disease: A Multicenter Experience

A study from Ankara Yildirim Beyazit University in Turkey demonstrates extracorporeal photopheresis (ECP) as an effective treatment for patients with steroid-refractory acute graft-versus-host disease (aGVHD). The researcher’s findings, published in Transfusion and Apheresis Science, stem from a multicenter study and show promise for the safety and efficacy of ECP in aGVHD treatment.

Current treatments for certain blood cancers include allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). Unfortunately, this treatment can lead to aGVHD, which requires further treatment with immunosuppressive agents such as steroids. In some patients, the symptoms of GVHD do not improve, which results in steroid refractory GVHD. ECP involves the isolation, treatment and infusion of UV-A irradiated autologous peripheral lymphocytes. While this treatment appears to downregulate activated T cell clones and increase regulatory T cells, few studies have looked specifically at ECP’s usage for aGVHD.

In this study, 75 patients with steroid-refractory aGVHD were treated with ECP as a second-line therapy. Patients who responded to ECP showed a median survival of 68 months compared to only 5 months in the non-responding group (p < 0.001). The authors further demonstrate that early ECP treatment is a safe and effective treatment adjunctive-alternative therapy for aGVHD. These findings provide additional support for the use of ECP in steroid-refractory aGVHD.


Batgi H, Dal MS, Erkurt MA, et al. Extracorporeal photopheresis in the treatment of acute graft-versus-host disease: A multicenter experience [published online ahead of print, 2021 Aug 13]. Transfus Apher Sci. 2021;103242.


Tags: GVHD, Treatment, experience, Photopheresis, extracorporeal, multicenter

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