A high-dose pulse steroid regimen for controlling active chronic graft-versus-host disease

Görgün Akpek, Shing M. Lee, Viki Anders, Georgia B. Vogelsang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Corticosteroids remain essential for controlling active chronic graft-versus-host disease (cGVHD). However, the optimum dose and administration schedule is unknown. We have reviewed our results in 61 patients with severe refractory cGVHD who were treated with a high-dose pulse steroid regimen (PS) consisting of methylprednisolone at 10 mg/kg per day for 4 consecutive days, with subsequent tapering doses. After 4 days, all patients received a course of additional immunosuppressive therapy. The median age of the 56 patients who were evaluable for response was 32 years (range, 0.2-57 years). Patients had failed a median of 2 (range, 1-5) treatments prior to the PS. The median follow-up for 45 surviving patients after PS was 1.5 years. The probability of survival at 1 year and 2 years after PS was 88% (95% confidence interval [CI], 76%-95%) and 81% (95% CI, 65%-91%), respectively. Twenty-seven patients (48%) showed a major response to PS with substantial improvement of cGVHD manifestations, including softening of the skin, increased range of motion, and improved performance status; 15 patients (27%) showed a minor response, defined as improvement in some but not all symptoms of cGVHD. Of the 42 responders, 21 (50%) had progression of their cGVHD afterwards. The median time to progression was 1.9 years. The probability of progression at 1 and 2 years after PS was 36% (95% CI, 23%-53%) and 54% (95% CI, 38%-71%), respectively. The probability of progression at 1 year was 25% (95% CI, 12%-47%) and 55% (95% CI, 32%-81%) for patients who had major and minor response, respectively (hazard ratio, 2.13). Ten of the 42 responders (24%) were able to discontinue all systemic immunosuppressive treatments. The probability of discontinuation at 1 and 2 years after PS was 9% (95% CI, 3%-25%) and 27% (95% CI, 15%-48%), respectively. The treatment was well tolerated with no serious adverse events. Our results suggest that PS is a well-tolerated regimen for achieving rapid clinical response in the majority of patients with cGVHD who failed on multiple previous therapies. Further studies are warranted to maintain the efficacy of this regimen by combining with new active agents in cGVHD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)495-502
Number of pages8
JournalBiology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2001


  • Chronic
  • GVHD
  • Graft-versus-host disease
  • Steroid treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Transplantation


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