Transplant strategies in relapsed/refractory Hodgkin lymphoma

Blood. 2018 Apr 12;131(15):1689-1697. doi: 10.1182/blood-2017-09-772673. Epub 2018 Mar 2.


The majority of patients with Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) are cured with initial therapy. However, high-dose therapy with autologous hematopoietic cell transplant (AHCT) allows for the cure of an additional portion of patients with relapsed or primary refractory disease. Positron emission tomography-negative complete remission before AHCT is critical for long-term disease control. Several salvage options are available with comparable response rates, and the choice can be dependent of comorbidities and logistics. Radiation therapy can also improve the remission rate and is an important therapeutic option for selected patients. Brentuximab vedotin (BV) maintenance after AHCT is beneficial in patients at high risk for relapse, especially those with more than 1 risk factor, but can have the possibility of significant side effects, primarily neuropathy. Newer agents with novel mechanisms of action are under investigation to improve response rates for patients with subsequent relapse, although are not curative alone. BV and the checkpoint inhibitors nivolumab and pembrolizumab are very effective with limited side effects and can bridge patients to curative allogeneic transplants (allo-HCT). Consideration for immune-mediated toxicities, timing of allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplant based on response, and the potential for increased graft-versus-host disease remain important. Overall, prospective investigations continue to improve outcomes and minimize toxicity for relapsed or primary refractory HL patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Allografts
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Autografts
  • Chemoradiotherapy / methods*
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation / methods*
  • Hodgkin Disease / mortality
  • Hodgkin Disease / therapy*
  • Humans


  • Antineoplastic Agents