Extracorporeal photopheresis in the treatment of graft-versus-host disease: evidence and opinion

Ther Adv Hematol. 2013 Oct;4(5):320-34. doi: 10.1177/2040620713490316.


Despite significant advances in prevention and treatment strategies, graft-versus-host disease remains the most significant cause of morbidity and nonrelapse mortality after allogeneic hematopoietic cellular transplantation. Corticosteroids remain the standard frontline therapy for graft-versus-host disease; however, a considerable number of patients will not respond adequately and others will be significantly affected by adverse effects. Extracorporeal photopheresis is one of several secondary therapies which have shown promise in the clinical setting. While the procedure itself has been around for over 20 years, our understanding of the mechanisms from which therapeutic benefits are seen, and the population they are seen in, remains limited. In this article, we review the use of extracorporeal photopheresis for the treatment of graft-versus-host disease including details covering the procedure's mechanism of action, safety profile and clinical efficacy data.

Keywords: Graft-versus-host disease; hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation; immunomodulation; photopheresis.