Long-term survival of beta thalassemia major patients treated with hematopoietic stem cell transplantation compared with survival with conventional treatment

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Abstract

Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) in thalassemia remains a challenge. We reported a single-centre case-control study of a large cohort of 516 children and adult patients treated with HSCT or blood transfusion support and iron chelation therapy; 258 patients (median age 12, range 1-45) underwent sibling (67%) or unrelated (33%) HSCT; 97 patients were adults (age ≥ 16 years). The median follow-up after HSCT was 11 years (range 1-30). The conditioning regimen was busulfan (80.6%) or treosulfan-based (19.4%). A cohort of 258 age-sex matched conventionally treated (CT) patients was randomly selected. In transplanted patients the 30-year overall survival (OS) and thalassemia-free survival (TFS) were 82.6 ± 2.7% and 77.8 ± 2.9%, compared to the OS of 85.3 ± 2.7% in CT patients (P = NS); The incidence of grade II-IV acute and chronic graft versus host disease (GvHD) was 23.6% and 12.9% respectively. The probability of rejection was 6.9%. Transplant-related mortality (TRM) (13.8%) was similar to the probability of dying of cardiovascular events in CT patients (12.2%). High-risk Pesaro score (class 3) was associated with lower OS (OR = 1.99, 95% C.I.=1.31-3.03) and TFS (OR = 1.54, 95% C.I.=1.12-2.12). In adult patients, the 23-years OS and TFS after HSCT were 70 ± 5% and 67.3 ± 5%, compared to 71.2 ± 5% of OS in CT (P = NS). Finally, treosulfan was associated with lower risk of acute GvHD (P = .004; OR = 0.28, 95% C.I.=0.12-0.67). In conclusion, the 30-year survival rate of ex-thalassemia patients after HSCT was similar to that expected in CT thalassemia patients, with the vast majority of HSCT survivors cured from thalassemia.

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