Background: Chronic graft versus host disease (GvHD) is a major complication after allogeneic stem cell transplantation (SCT), which is usually progression from acute GvHD. Chronic GvHD is the main cause of severe morbidity and mortality in long-term survivors after SCT. The cysteinyl leukotrienes (cysLTs) and eosinophils play an important role in the pathogenesis of GvHD, which is the rationale for the combined use of montelukast (Mk) in the treatment of this illness.
Methods: Mk was administrated to 19 eligible patients with refractory chronic GvHD, in addition to their standard immunosuppressive regimens. Mk was given orally (10 mg once daily) for a mean period of 10 months (range, 2-21 months). Organ-specific response was determined by the new scoring criteria established by the National Institutes of Health consensus project.
Results: Based on organ involvements endpoints, overall response to the combined therapy with Mk was observed in 15 of 19 (79%) patients. Significant improvement of skin liver and gastrointestinal was observed in 53%, 62%, and 46%, respectively. Generally, Mk was notably beneficial in milder stages of GvHD, which lead to earlier withdrawal of other immunosuppressive agents. Side effects of Mk administration were not documented, nor were cases of relapse of the basic disease.
Conclusions: Our preliminary prospective investigation supports the potential efficacy of Mk as a safe and toxicity-sparing supplement to standard therapy for patients with chronic GvHD. Future clinical studies are necessary to establish the optimal dose of Mk and its role in the symptomatic and prophylactic treatment of acute and chronic GvHD.