Use of antithymocyte globulin for treatment of steroid-refractory acute graft-versus-host disease: an international practice survey

Bone Marrow Transplant. 2001 Nov;28(10):945-50. doi: 10.1038/sj.bmt.1703269.


Antithymocyte globulin (ATG) is accepted as a treatment option for steroid-refractory acute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). We conducted an international survey to determine how steroid refractoriness is defined and how ATG is used in clinical practice. Responses were received from 153 centers in 36 countries. The most common threshold steroid dose to define steroid refractoriness was 2 mg/kg/day (67% of respondents), and the median duration of treatment before failure was declared varied from 3 to 5.5 days, depending on whether failure was defined as 'progressed', 'not improved' or 'not resolved'. The threshold corticosteroid dose was significantly higher in pediatric centers than in adult or combined programs (P = 0.003). ATG was used routinely for treatment of steroid-refractory GVHD by 67% of the respondents. Horse ATG was used more frequently than rabbit ATG overall (50% vs 24%, P < 0.001), and predominance of horse ATG was most evident in the western hemisphere, in small- to medium-sized centers, and in pediatric centers. A wide variety of dose schedules for both drugs was reported. We conclude that there is some degree of variation in the definition of steroid refractoriness, especially between pediatric and nonpediatric programs, and no consensus has emerged in identifying the optimal ATG dose schedule in this setting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adolescent
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Antilymphocyte Serum / administration & dosage
  • Antilymphocyte Serum / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Data Collection
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Drug Resistance
  • Female
  • Global Health
  • Graft vs Host Disease / drug therapy*
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation / adverse effects
  • Horses
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Rabbits


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Antilymphocyte Serum