First- and Second-Line Systemic Treatment of Acute Graft-versus-Host Disease: Recommendations of the American Society of Blood and Marrow Transplantation
Despite prophylaxis with immunosuppressive agents or a variety of other approaches, many patients suffer from acute graft-versus-host disease after allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation. Although consensus has emerged supporting the use of high-dose methylprednisolone or prednisone for initial treatment of acute GVHD, practices differ among centers with respect to the initial glucocorticoid dose, the use of additional immunosuppressive agents, and the approach to withdrawal of treatment after initial improvement. Despite many studies, practices vary considerably with respect to the selection of agents for treatment of glucocorticoid-resistant or refractory GVHD. Investigators and clinicians have recognized the lack of progress and lamented the absence of an accepted standard of care for secondary treatment of acute GVHD. The American Society of Blood and Marrow Transplantation has developed recommendations for treatment of acute GVHD to be considered by care providers, based on a comprehensive and critical review of published reports. Since the literature provides little basis for a definitive guideline, this review also provides a framework for the interpretation of previous studies and the design of future studies.