Background: A retrospective study was conducted to evaluate the efficacy of granulocyte transfusions in neutropenic patients with fungal infections following bone marrow transplantation.
Study design and methods: Systemic fungal infection was detected in 87 patients during the first 100 days following bone marrow transplantation; 50 received granulocytes in addition to appropriate antifungal agents. The median age was 17 years in the transfused patients (range, 1.5-57) and 35 years in the nontransfused patients (range, 0.8-50). Granulocyte transfusions were given on a daily to twice-daily basis. To evaluate their responses, patients were categorized by infection type (candidal [n = 38] vs. noncandidal [n = 49]) and site (fungemia alone [n = 30] vs. invasive infection [n = 57]). Resolution of infection was defined as the resolution of signs and symptoms and negative cultures and/or histopathology.
Results: No benefit of granulocyte transfusions could be shown in the resolution of infection in patients with either invasive noncandidal infection (29% in the transfused patients vs. 23% in the nontransfused patients, p > 0.1) or candidal sepsis (56% vs. 50%, p > 0.1). Among patients with delayed marrow recovery, no difference was seen in the resolution of infection in the transfused (25.9%) and nontransfused (50%) patients (p > 0.1); nor was any difference between the transfused and nontransfused patients evident in the duration of febrile episode associated with the fungal infection. Granulocyte transfusions were well tolerated, with the only complications being fever in 12 patients (24%), chills in 10 (20%), and respiratory distress in 2 (4%). Despite attempts to stratify by infection type, invasiveness, and marrow recovery, it was not possible to show any benefit of granulocyte transfusions in this group.
Conclusions: It is likely that only through a prospective randomized trial can the question of the efficacy of granulocyte transfusions in treating fungal infections be conclusively answered.