Background: Transplantation of allogeneic haemopoietic stem cells can cure several non-malignant disorders in children. Transplantation with reduced intensity preparation might achieve the same goals but with less toxicity. We undertook a pilot study to determine engraftment rates, kinetics of engraftment, toxicity, and acute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) associated with a uniform reduced intensity haemopoietic stem-cell transplant (HSCT) regimen for children with non-malignant diseases.
Methods: We studied 13 paediatric patients with non-malignant disorders who underwent reduced intensity HSCT at Children's Memorial Hospital from January, 2000, to February, 2004. Stem-cell sources included unrelated donor, matched-sibling peripheral blood stem cells, and unrelated cord blood. A uniform preparative regimen was used, consisting of fludarabine, busulfan, and anti-thymocyte globulin. Major endpoints were engraftment, transplant-related mortality at day 100, short-term toxicities, and incidence of acute GVHD.
Results: 72% of evaluable patients achieved full donor engraftment. There was rapid reconstitution of platelets (median 13.5 days) and neutrophils (median 18 days). Short-term toxicities were minimal, as seen by a median length of hospital stay of 7 days (between days 0-100). Incidence of grade II-IV acute GVHD was 8%. Two patients died before day 100 from underlying disease and viral infection, respectively (day 100 transplant-related mortality of 15%). The 1-year overall survival was 84% (95% CI 64-100). Most patients with immunodeficiencies and metabolic disorders had excellent donor engraftment and disease resolution or stabilisation, but most of those with haemoglobinopathies rejected their graft.
Interpretation: This reduced intensity regimen followed by HSCT provides a good alternative to myeloablative HSCT for children with non-malignant disorders, except for haemoglobinopathies, in which engraftment is poor. Even patients with unrelated donor haemopoietic stem-cell transplants had adequate engraftment with acceptable toxicities.