Transplantation strategies for patients with follicular lymphoma

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Purpose of reviewThis review summarizes the current status and new developments in autologous and allogeneic transplantation strategies for patients with follicular lymphoma including novel concepts of myeloablative radioimmunotherapy, allogeneic transplantation with dose-reduced conditioning, and in-vivo purging strategies using B-cell-specific antibodies.Recent findingsSubstantial progress has been made in the clinical management of follicular lymphoma. Besides immunochemotherapeutic approaches combining the B-cell antibody rituximab with conventional chemotherapy regimens, myeloablative chemotherapy or radiochemotherapy supported by autologous peripheral blood stem cell transplantation has been shown to be a highly effective treatment for advanced-stage disease. Dose-reduced conditioning regimens followed by allogeneic transplantation have substantially reduced treatment-related mortality of this approach and ongoing studies are evaluating whether the therapeutic benefit outweighs morbidity and mortality of this potentially curative treatment. Emerging concepts include the use of rituximab for in-vivo purging before reinfusion of autologous stem cells or the application of myeloablative radioimmunotherapy as part of myeloablative consolidation.SummaryThe data on myeloablative therapy followed by autologous stem cell transplantation or allogeneic transplantation are encouraging. Allogeneic transplantation with dose-reduced conditioning should be further evaluated within clinical trials, however, in particular for patients with relapsed or refractory lymphoma. Future prospective randomized clinical trials should reevaluate the role of autologous stem cell transplantation in the era of antibody-based therapy and define the role of radioimmunotherapy and of reduced-intensity allogeneic transplantation.

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