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Autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation in neuromyelitis optica: A registry study of the EBMT Autoimmune Diseases Working Party

Background:

Neuromyelitis optica (NMO) is an inflammatory autoimmune disorder of the central nervous system, hallmarked by pathogenic anti-aquaporin 4 antibodies. NMO prognosis is worse compared with multiple sclerosis.

Objective:

The European Group for Blood and Marrow Transplantation (EBMT) Autoimmune Diseases Working Party (ADWP) conducted a retrospective survey to analyze disease outcome following autologous stem cell transplantation (ASCT).

Methods:

This retrospective multicenter study assessed the efficacy and safety of ASCT in 16 patients suffering from refractory NMO reported to the EBMT registry between 2001 and 2011.

Results:

Fifteen patients were successfully mobilized with cyclophosphamide (Cy) and G-CSF, one with G-CSF alone. All patients received an unmanipulated autologous peripheral blood stem cell graft, after conditioning with BEAM plus anti-thymocyte globulin (ATG, n = 9 patients), thiotepa-Cy (n = 3) or Cy (200 mg/kg) plus ATG (n = 4).

After a median follow-up of 47 months, three of 16 cases were progression and treatment free, while in the remaining 13 patients further treatments were administered for disability progression or relapse after ASCT. Altogether, relapse-free survival at three and five years was 31% and 10%, respectively, while progression-free survival remained 48% at three and five years.

Conclusions:

In these NMO patients, highly resistant to conventional treatment, ASCT allows for temporary control of the disease, despite a tendency to progress or relapse in the long term.