Allogeneic stem cell transplantation for patients with aggressive NK-cell leukemia


Aggressive NK-cell leukemia (ANKL) has a fulminant clinical course with a poor prognosis. Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo-HSCT) is currently the only curative treatment. Using the Japanese transplant registry data, the outcomes of 59 ANKL patients who underwent first allo-HSCT were analyzed. Twenty-nine patients received stem cells from cord blood (CB), 18 from peripheral blood, and 12 from bone marrow. At the time of transplant 21 patients had complete response (CR), and 7 partial response (PR), but 31 without response. The 1-year and 5-year overall survival (OS) were 33.9% and 27.3%, respectively. The 1-year cumulative incidences of relapse or progression was 55.5%, and that of non-relapse mortality was 12.1%. The OS was significantly better for patients with CR or PR at the time of allo-HSCT (P = 0.046), which was equivalent to that for patients who experienced primary induction failure at the time of allo-HSCT but achieved CR afterwards (40.6% versus 32.0% at 5 years; P = 0.95). Patients receiving CB had a significantly better OS than those receiving stem cells from others (37.3% versus 16.2% at 5 years; P = 0.04). Patients achieving event-free survival at 12 months after allo-HSCT had good outcomes with 5-year OS of 85.2%.

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Fig. 1: Outcomes of patients with aggressive NK-cell leukemia after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.
Fig. 2: The effect of each variable on probability of OS.
Fig. 3: The impact of EFS12 after allo-HSCT on the probability of OS.
Fig. 4: The effect of GVHD on the probability of OS.


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We thank all the physicians and data managers at the centers who contributed to gathering data on transplantation for the Transplant Registry Unified Management Program and all the members of the Data Management Committees of Japan Society for Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation. This work was supported in part by the Practical Research Project for Allergic Disease and Immunology (Research Technology of Medical Transplantation), Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development, AMED.

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A.F. and R.S. designed the study. A.F. performed analyses and wrote the manuscript. All authors discussed the results, interpreted the data, and reviewed the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Ritsuro Suzuki.

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Fujimoto, A., Ishida, F., Izutsu, K. et al. Allogeneic stem cell transplantation for patients with aggressive NK-cell leukemia. Bone Marrow Transplant (2020).

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