Potential survival benefit for patients receiving autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation after checkpoint inhibitors for relapsed/refractory Hodgkin lymphoma: a real-life experience


Hematol Oncol. 2020 Sep 9. doi: 10.1002/hon.2803. Online ahead of print.


In recent years, novel drugs are available for the patients with relapsed/refractory Hodgkin lymphoma (HL), like immune checkpoint inhibitors (CPi). These drugs have been able to rescue a cohort of patients who subsequently could receive an allogeneic stem-cell transplant (SCT). No data were reported for subsequent autologous SCT (ASCT) after CPi. Here, we report our real-life experience in heavily pretreated HL patients undergoing ASCT as consolidation approach after CPi treatment. A

retrospective observational study was conducted. Patients had CPi therapy in the context of clinical trials (n=6) or in the named patient program (n=7) between July 2014 and November 2019: 9 out of 13 received pembrolizumab and the remaining four underwent nivolumab. A median of 12 cycles (range 3-16) of CPi therapy were infused. Thirteen patients underwent ASCT after CPi: 11 (84.6%) patients obtained a complete response (CR) and 2 had progression of disease, with an overall response rate of 84.6%. With a median follow-up of 3.3 years (range, 1.1-5.5), only one CR patient had disease relapse after 3.9 months from ASCT, leading to an estimated disease-free survival of 87.5% at 56.9 months. The estimated 5-year progression free survival was 73.4% and overall survival was 92.3% at 4.8 years, respectively. No unexpected or cumulative toxicity was observed. Our results indicated that ASCT may represent a further effective therapeutic option as consolidation in HL after CPi treatment that today represents the last conventionally recognized therapeutic line. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.