PD-1 blockade for relapsed lymphoma post-allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplant: High response rate but frequent GVHD

Academic Article


  • Given the limited treatment options for relapsed lymphoma post-allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (post-allo-HCT) and the success of programmed death 1 (PD-1) blockade in classical Hodgkin lymphoma (cHL) patients, anti-PD-1 monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) are increasingly being used off-label after allo-HCT. To characterize the safety and efficacy of PD-1 blockade in this setting, we conducted a multicenter retrospective analysis of 31 lymphoma patients receiving anti-PD-1 mAbs for relapse post-allo-HCT. Twenty-nine (94%) patients had cHL and 27 had ≥1 salvage therapy post-allo-HCT and prior to anti-PD-1 treatment. Median follow-up was 428 days (range, 133-833) after the first dose of anti-PD-1. Overall response rate was 77% (15 complete responses and 8 partial responses) in 30 evaluable patients. At last follow-up, 11 of 31 patients progressed and 21 of 31 (68%) remain alive, with 8 (26%) deaths related to newonsetgraftversus-host disease (GVHD) after anti-PD-1.Seventeen(55%)patientsdeveloped treatment-emergent GVHD after initiationof anti-PD-1 (6 acute, 4overlap, and7 chronic), with onset after amedian of 1, 2, and 2 doses, respectively. GVHD severity was grade III-IV acute or severe chronic in 9 patients. Only 2 of these 17 patients achieved complete response to GVHD treatment, and 14 of 17 required ≥2 systemic therapies. In conclusion, PD-1 blockade in relapsed cHL allo-HCT patients appears to be highly efficacious but frequently complicated by rapid onset of severe and treatment-refractory GVHD. PD-1 blockade post-allo-HCT should be studied further but cannot be recommended for routine use outside of a clinical trial.
  • Published In

  • Blood  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Haverkos BM; Abbott D; Hamadani M; Armand P; Flowers ME; Merryman R; Kamdar M; Kanate AS; Saad A; Mehta A
  • Start Page

  • 221
  • End Page

  • 228
  • Volume

  • 130
  • Issue

  • 2