Background aims: In allogeneic stem cell transplantation, unrelated donors are chosen in cases where appropriate related donors are not available. Peripheral blood stem cells (PBSCs) are more often selected as a graft source than bone marrow (BM). However, the prognostic benefits of PBSCs versus BM transplants from unrelated donors have not been carefully examined in patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). This study compared outcomes of adult AML patients who underwent unrelated PBSC and BM transplantation, evaluating post-transplant complications, including engraftment, graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) and infections, and determined subgroups of patients who are most likely to benefit from unrelated PBSCs compared with BM transplants. Methods: The authors analyzed 2962 adult AML patients who underwent unrelated PBSC or BM transplants between 2011 and 2018 (221 PBSC and 2741 BM) using the Japanese nationwide registry database, in which graft source selection is not skewed toward PBSCs. Results: In 49.7% of patients, disease status at transplantation was first complete remission (CR1). In 57.1% of cases, HLA-matched donors were selected. Myeloablative conditioning was performed in 75.1% of cases, and anti-thymocyte globulin (ATG) was added to conditioning in 10.5%. Multivariate analyses showed a trend toward favorable non-relapse mortality (NRM) in PBSC recipients compared with BM recipients (hazard ratio [HR], 0.731, P = 0.096), whereas overall survival (OS) (HR, 0.959, P = 0.230) and disease-free survival (DFS) (HR, 0.868, P = 0.221) were comparable between PBSC and BM recipients. Although the rate of chronic GVHD (cGVHD) was significantly higher in PBSC patients (HR, 1.367, P = 0.016), NRM was not increased, mainly as a result of significantly reduced risk of bacterial infections (HR, 0.618, P = 0.010), reflecting more prompt engraftments in PBSC recipients. Subgroup analyses revealed that PBSC transplantation was advantageous in patients transplanted at CR1 and in those without ATG use. PBSC recipients experienced significantly better OS and/or DFS compared with BM recipients in this patient group. Conclusions: The authors' results confirmed the overall safety of unrelated PBSC transplantation for adult AML patients and suggested an advantage of PBSCs, especially for those in CR1. Further optimization of the prophylactic strategy for cGVHD is required to improve the overall outcome in transplantation from unrelated PBSC donors.
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