Acute graft-versus-host disease remains a major threat to a successful outcome after allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation. While improvements in treatment and supportive care have occurred, it is unknown whether these advances have resulted in improved outcome specifically among those diagnosed with acute graft-versus-host disease. We examined outcome following diagnosis of grade II-IV acute graft-versus-host disease according to time period, and explored effects according to original graft-versus-host disease prophylaxis regimen and maximum overall grade of acute graft-versus-host disease. Between 1999 and 2012, 2,905 patients with acute myeloid leukemia (56%), acute lymphoblastic leukemia (30%) or myelodysplastic syndromes (14%) received a sibling (24%) or unrelated donor (76%) blood (66%) or marrow (34%) transplant and developed grade II-IV acute graft-versus-host disease (n=497 for 1999-2001, n=962 for 2002-2005, n=1,446 for 2006-2010). The median (range) follow-up was 144 (4-174), 97 (4-147) and 60 (8-99) months for 1999-2001, 2002-2005, and 2006-2010, respectively. Among the cohort with grade II-IV acute graft-versus-host disease, there was a decrease in the proportion of grade III-IV disease over time with 56%, 47%, and 37% for 1999-2001, 2002-2005, and 2006-2012, respectively (P<0.001). Considering the total study population, univariate analysis demonstrated significant improvements in overall survival and treatment-related mortality over time, and deaths from organ failure and infection declined. On multivariate analysis, significant improvements in overall survival (P=0.003) and treatment-related mortality (P=0.008) were only noted among those originally treated with tacrolimus-based graft-versus-host disease prophylaxis, and these effects were most apparent among those with overall grade II acute graft-versus-host disease. In conclusion, survival has improved over time for tacrolimus-treated transplant recipients with acute graft-versus-host disease.
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