High-dose therapy for autoimmune neurologic diseases

Daniel B. Drachman, Robert A. Brodsky

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Purpose of review: Autoimmune neurologic diseases are being increasingly recognized, and treated with conventional immunosuppressive agents. Patients with 'refractory' conditions have been treated with high-dose therapy, with or without autologous stem cell transplants. This paper reviews the rationale, methods, and recent results of high-dose therapy and the questions that it raises. Recent findings: High-dose therapy has been used in progressive multiple sclerosis and in myasthenia gravis and autoimmune neuropathies that are refractory to conventional immunotherapy. A variety of methods of immune ablation have been used; most require haematopoietic 'rescue' with stem cell transplantation. High-dose cyclophosphamide alone is immunoablative but not myeloablative, permitting the patient's endogenous stem cells to repopulate the hematopoietic/immune systems. The results have been highly encouraging in many but not all cases, with durable responses in the limited time they have been followed up. The treatments carry some risks and have been reserved for refractory cases until now. Summary: High-dose therapy, without or with stem cell transplantation, is a valuable resource for the treatment of patients with refractory autoimmune neurologic diseases. It is important to define the diseases and patient characteristics likely to lead to benefit, to optimize the methods of treatment and to establish when in the patient's course to administer it. High-dose therapy may eventually become the standard for treatment of severe progressive autoimmune neurologic disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)83-88
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent opinion in oncology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2005


  • Autoimmune neurologic disease
  • High-dose therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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