Salvage treatment for relapsed/refractory Hodgkin lymphoma: role of allografting, brentuximab vedotin and newer agents

Expert Opin Biol Ther. 2016;16(3):347-64. doi: 10.1517/14712598.2015.1130821. Epub 2016 Feb 6.


Introduction: Second-line, salvage chemotherapy followed by high-dose chemotherapy and autologous stem cell transplantation (AUTO-SCT) is the standard of care for patients with relapsed/refractory (R/R) Hodgkin lymphoma (HL). Approximately 50% of patients relapse after AUTO-SCT and their prognosis is generally poor. Brentuximab Vedotin (BV) has demonstrated efficacy in this setting and allogeneic (ALLO)-SCT represents an option with curative potential in this subgroup of patients.

Areas covered: A systematic review has been conducted to explore the actual knowledge on ALLO-SCT, BV and newer agents in R/R HL.

Expert opinion: The introduction of BV in clinical practice has significantly improved the management of post-AUTO-SCT relapses and the drug can induce durable remissions in a subset of R/R HL. Allografting select patients has been used to improve clinical outcomes and recent case series have begun to explore BV as a potential 'bridge' to allo-SCT, even though the optimal timing of ALLO-SCT after BV response remains undetermined. However, reduced tumor burden at the time of ALLO-SCT is a key factor to decrease relapse risk. Based on the unique composition of the tumor, more recently new agents such as PD-1 inhibitors have been developed. The potential role of PD-1 inhibitors with ALLO-SCT remains to be explored.

Keywords: Brentuximab vedotin; Hodgkin lymphoma; PD-1 inhibitors; allogeneic stem cell transplantation; refractory Hodgkin lymphoma; relapsed Hodgkin lymphoma.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Brentuximab Vedotin
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation / methods*
  • Hodgkin Disease / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Immunoconjugates / therapeutic use*
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / therapy*
  • Prognosis
  • Salvage Therapy / methods*
  • Transplantation, Homologous
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Immunoconjugates
  • Brentuximab Vedotin