Autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation in multiple sclerosis: A meta-analysis

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To summarize the evidence on immunoablative therapy followed by autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (aHSCT) to manage severe and treatment-refractory multiple sclerosis (MS).


We collected all the published studies of aHSCT in any form of MS from 1995 to 2016, carefully excluding reports that were updated in subsequent studies. Endpoints were transplant-related mortality (TRM), rate of disease progression, and no evidence of disease activity (NEDA) status. A weighted metaregression based on a Poisson model was run, assessing whether there were study-specific characteristics with an effect on TRM and progression.


Fifteen studies including 764 transplanted patients were pooled in the meta-analysis. The pooled estimate of TRM was 2.1% (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.3%–3.4%). TRM was higher in older studies (p = 0.014) and in studies with a lower proportion of patients with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) (p = 0.028). A higher baseline Expanded Disability Status Scale (p = 0.013) was also significantly associated with a higher TRM. Pooled rate of progression was 17.1% at 2 years (95% CI 9.7%–24.5%) and 23.3% (95% CI 16.3%–31.8%) at 5 years. Lower 2-year progression rate was significantly associated with higher proportions of patients with RRMS (p = 0.004). The pooled proportion of NEDA patients at 2 years was 83% (range 70%–92%) and at 5 years was 67% (range 59%–70%).


The emerging evidence on this therapeutic approach in MS indicates that the largest benefit/risk profile form this therapeutic approach can be obtained in patients with aggressive MS with a relapsing-remitting course and who have not yet accumulated a high level of disability.

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