Upfront autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation consolidation for patients with aggressive B-cell lymphomas in first remission in the rituximab era: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Cancer. 2019 Dec 15;125(24):4417-4425. doi: 10.1002/cncr.32464. Epub 2019 Aug 23.


Background: The outcomes for patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) with adverse clinical prognostic factors such as a high age-adjusted International Prognostic Index (aaIPI) are not optimal. In the current study, the authors performed a systematic review and meta-analysis to assess the totality of evidence pertaining to the efficacy of autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (auto-HCT) consolidation for patients with DLBCL in first remission.

Methods: The authors searched the Cochrane and MEDLINE/PubMed databases through December 1, 2018, for studies comparing conventional chemotherapy with rituximab (R-chemo) versus R-chemo and auto-HCT. Two authors independently reviewed all references for study inclusion and extracted data related to benefits (overall survival, progression-free survival, and response rates) and harms (treatment-related mortality and adverse events).

Results: Four studies (1173 patients) met the inclusion criteria and were included in the current analysis. The median duration of follow-up ranged from 42 to 76 months. There was no difference noted with regard to the overall survival (hazard ratio, 1.01; 95% CI, 0.74-1.37), progression-free survival (hazard ratio, 0.77; 95% CI, 0.58-1.04), or response rates (risk ratio, 0.98; 95% CI, 0.92-1.04) between patients who received R-chemo and auto-HCT and those who received R-chemo alone. The risk of mortality and therapy failure was not found to be different when the analysis was limited to high aaIPI between the 2 groups. Although there was no difference noted with regard to the risk of treatment-related mortality, there was a significantly higher incidence of CTCAE grade 3 or 4 adverse events in patients who received R-chemo and auto-HCT compared with patients treated with R-chemo alone.

Conclusions: The findings from what to the authors' knowledge is the first meta-analysis performed in the rituximab era demonstrated no beneficial effect of upfront auto-HCT consolidation in patients with aggressive B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma, including high-risk clinical groups (high aaIPI).

Keywords: International Prognostic Index (IPI); aggressive B-cell lymphoma; autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation; meta-analysis; rituximab.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation* / adverse effects
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation* / methods
  • Humans
  • Induction Chemotherapy
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse / diagnosis
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse / mortality
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse / therapy*
  • Prognosis
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Publication Bias
  • Rituximab / administration & dosage
  • Rituximab / adverse effects
  • Rituximab / therapeutic use
  • Transplantation, Autologous
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Rituximab