Role of Donor Clonal Hematopoiesis in Allogeneic Hematopoietic Stem-Cell Transplantation

J Clin Oncol. 2019 Feb 10;37(5):375-385. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2018.79.2184. Epub 2018 Nov 7.


Purpose: Clonal hematopoiesis of indeterminate potential (CHIP) occurs in the blood of approximately 20% of older persons. CHIP is linked to an increased risk of hematologic malignancies and of all-cause mortality; thus, the eligibility of stem-cell donors with CHIP is questionable. We comprehensively investigated how donor CHIP affects outcome of allogeneic hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation (HSCT).

Methods: We collected blood samples from 500 healthy, related HSCT donors (age ≥ 55 years) at the time of stem-cell donation for targeted sequencing with a 66-gene panel. The effect of donor CHIP was assessed on recipient outcomes, including graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), cumulative incidence of relapse/progression (CIR/P), and overall survival (OS).

Results: A total of 92 clonal mutations with a median variant allele frequency of 5.9% were identified in 80 (16.0%) of 500 donors. CHIP prevalence was higher in donors related to patients with myeloid compared with lymphoid malignancies (19.2% v 6.3%; P ≤ .001). In recipients allografted with donor CHIP, we found a high cumulative incidence of chronic GVHD (cGVHD; hazard ratio [HR], 1.73; 95% CI, 1.21 to 2.49; P = .003) and lower CIR/P (univariate: HR, 0.62; 95% CI, 0.40 to 0.97; P = .027; multivariate: HR, 0.63; 95% CI, 0.41 to 0.98; P = .042) but no effect on nonrelapse mortality. Serial quantification of 25 mutations showed engraftment of 24 of 25 clones and disproportionate expansion in half of them. Donor-cell leukemia was observed in two recipients. OS was not affected by donor CHIP status (HR, 0.88; 95% CI, 0.65 to 1.321; P = .434).

Conclusion: Allogeneic HSCT from donors with CHIP seems safe and results in similar survival in the setting of older, related donors. Future studies in younger and unrelated donors are warranted to extend these results. Confirmatory studies and mechanistic experiments are warranted to challenge the hypothesis that donor CHIP might foster cGVHD development and reduce relapse/progression risk.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Gene Frequency
  • Graft vs Host Disease / genetics
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / therapy
  • Hematopoiesis / genetics*
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation / adverse effects
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation / methods*
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / cytology
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Transplantation, Homologous
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Unrelated Donors*