Survival and Functional Outcomes in Boys with Cerebral Adrenoleukodystrophy with and without Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation

Biol Blood Marrow Transplant. 2019 Mar;25(3):538-548. doi: 10.1016/j.bbmt.2018.09.036. Epub 2018 Oct 4.


Cerebral adrenoleukodystrophy (CALD) is a rapidly progressing, often fatal neurodegenerative disease caused by mutations in the ABCD1 gene, resulting in deficiency of ALD protein. Clinical benefit has been reported following allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). We conducted a large multicenter retrospective chart review to characterize the natural history of CALD, to describe outcomes after HSCT, and to identify predictors of treatment outcomes. Major functional disabilities (MFDs) were identified as having the most significant impact on patients' abilities to function independently and were used to assess HSCT outcome. Neurologic function score (NFS) and Loes magnetic resonance imaging score were assessed. Data were collected on 72 patients with CALD who did not undergo HSCT (untreated cohort) and on 65 patients who underwent transplantation (HSCT cohort) at 5 clinical sites. Kaplan-Meier (KM) estimates of 5-year overall survival (OS) from the time of CALD diagnosis were 55% (95% confidence interval [CI], 42.2% to 65.7%) for the untreated cohort and 78% (95% CI, 64% to 86.6%) for the HSCT cohort overall (P = .01). KM estimates of 2-year MFD-free survival for patients with gadolinium-enhanced lesions (GdE+) were 29% (95% CI, 11.7% to 48.2%) for untreated patients (n = 21). For patients who underwent HSCT with GdE+ at baseline, with an NFS ≤1 and Loes score of 0.5 to ≤9 (n = 27), the 2-year MFD-free survival was 84% (95% CI, 62.3% to 93.6%). Mortality rates post-HSCT were 8% (5 of 65) at 100days and 18% (12 of 65) at 1 year, with disease progression (44%; 7 of 16) and infection (31%; 5 of 16) listed as the most common causes of death. Adverse events post-HSCT included infection (29%; 19 of 65), acute grade II-IV graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) (31%; 18 of 58), and chronic GVHD (7%; 4 of 58). Eighteen percent of the patients (12 of 65) experienced engraftment failure after their first HSCT. Positive predictors of OS in the HSCT cohort may include donor-recipient HLA matching and lack of GVHD, and early disease treatment was predictive of MFD-free survival. GdE+ status is a strong predictor of disease progression in untreated patients.‎ This study confirms HSCT as an effective treatment for CALD when performed early. We propose survival without MFDs as a relevant treatment goal, rather than solely assessing OS as an indicator of treatment success.

Keywords: Cerebral adrenoleukodystrophy; Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation; Natural history.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adrenoleukodystrophy / complications
  • Adrenoleukodystrophy / mortality
  • Adrenoleukodystrophy / therapy*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Disease Progression
  • Graft vs Host Disease / etiology
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation / methods*
  • Humans
  • Infections / etiology
  • Male
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Analysis
  • Time-to-Treatment
  • Young Adult