Idiopathic acquired aplastic anemia can be successfully treated with Anti Thymocyte Globulin (ATG)-based immune suppressive therapy and is therefore considered a T cell-mediated auto immune disease. Based on this finding, several other forms of idiopathic acquired bone marrow failure are treated with ATG as well. For this review, we extensively searched the present literature for evidence that ATG can lead to enduring remissions in different forms of acquired multi- or single-lineage bone marrow failure. We conclude that ATG-based therapy can lead to an enduring hematopoietic response and increased overall survival (OS) in patients with acquired aplastic aplasia. In patients with hypocellular myelodysplastic syndrome, ATG can lead to a hematological improvement without changing the OS. ATG seems less effective in acquired single-lineage failure diseases like Pure Red Cell Aplasia, Amegakaryocytic Thrombocytopenia and Pure White Cell Aplasia, suggesting a different pathogenesis in these bone marrow failure states compared to aplastic anemia. T cell depletion is hypothesized to play an important role in the beneficial effect of ATG but, as ATG is a mixture of polyclonal antibodies binding to different antigens, other anti-inflammatory or immunomodulatory effects could play a role as well.
Keywords: acquired bone marrow failure; amegakaryocytic thrombocytopenia; anti-thymocyte globulin; aplastic anemia; myelodysplastic syndrome; pure red cell aplasia; pure white cell aplasia.