Improved outcomes for relapsed/refractory Hodgkin lymphoma after autologous transplantation in the era of novel agents

Blood. 2023 Jun 1;141(22):2727-2737. doi: 10.1182/blood.2022018827.


The treatment landscape of relapsed/refractory (R/R) classic Hodgkin lymphoma (cHL) has evolved significantly over the past decade after the approval of brentuximab vedotin (BV) and the programmed death-1 (PD-1) inhibitors. We evaluated how outcomes and practice patterns have changed for patients with R/R cHL who underwent autologous hematopoietic cell transplantation (AHCT) at our institution from 2011 to 2020 (N = 183) compared with those from 2001 to 2010 (N = 159) and evaluated prognostic factors for progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) in both eras. OS was superior in the modern era with a trend toward lower nonrelapse mortality beyond 2 years after transplant. Among patients who progressed after AHCT, 4-year postprogression survival increased from 43.3% to 71.4% in the modern era, reflecting increasing use of BV and the PD-1 inhibitors. In multivariable analysis for patients that underwent transplant in the modern era, age ≥45 years, primary refractory disease, and lack of complete remission pre-AHCT were associated with inferior PFS, whereas receipt of a PD-1 inhibitor-based regimen pre-AHCT was associated with superior PFS. Extranodal disease at relapse was associated with inferior OS. Our study demonstrates improved survival for R/R cHL after AHCT in the modern era attributed to more effective salvage regimens allowing for better disease control pre-AHCT and improved outcomes for patients who progressed after AHCT. Excellent outcomes were observed with PD-1 inhibitor-based salvage regimens pre-AHCT and support a randomized trial evaluating immunotherapy in the second line setting.

MeSH terms

  • Brentuximab Vedotin / therapeutic use
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation* / adverse effects
  • Hodgkin Disease* / pathology
  • Humans
  • Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / therapy
  • Transplantation, Autologous


  • Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors
  • Brentuximab Vedotin