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Long-term follow-up results after autologous haematopoietic stem cell transplantation for severe systemic sclerosis


Objective: Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is a generalised autoimmune disease, causing morbidity and a reduced life expectancy, especially in patients with rapidly progressive diffuse cutaneous SSc. As no proven treatment exists, autologous haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) is employed as a new therapeutic strategy in patients with a poor prognosis. This study reports the effects on survival, skin and major organ function of HSCT in patients with severe diffuse cutaneous SSc.

Patients and methods: A total of 26 patients were evaluated. Peripheral blood stem cells were collected using cyclophosphamide (4 g/m2) and rHu G-CSF (5 to 10 μg/kg/day) and were reinfused after positive CD34+ selection. For conditioning, cyclophosphamide 200 mg/kg was used.

Results: After a median follow-up of 5.3 (1–7.5) years, 81% (n = 21/26) of the patients demonstrated a clinically beneficial response. The Kaplan–Meier estimated survival at 5 years was 96.2% (95% CI 89–100%) and at 7 years 84.8% (95% CI 70.2–100%) and event-free survival, defined as survival without mortality, relapse or progression of SSc, resulting in major organ dysfunction was 64.3% (95% CI 47.9–86%) at 5 years and 57.1% (95% CI 39.3–83%) at 7 years.

Conclusion: This study confirms that autologous HSCT in selected patients with severe diffuse cutaneous SSc results in sustained improvement of skin thickening and stabilisation of organ function up to 7 years after transplantation.

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    BMJ Publishing Group Ltd and European League Against Rheumatism