Autologous stem cell transplantation with or without in vitro lymphocyte depletion has been suggested as a new treatment option for severe autoimmune diseases. We describe five patients with autoimmune diseases (CREST syndrome, myasthenia gravis and Hashimoto's thyroiditis, systemic lupus erythematosus, atopic dermatitis, and rheumatoid arthritis) who underwent autologous bone marrow (n = 1) or peripheral blood progenitor cell (n = 4) transplantation with unmanipulated grafts as treatment for the autoimmune disease in one case or as treatment for a malignant disorder with a concomitant autoimmune disorder in four cases. In all patients serological and clinical signs of the autoimmune disease recurred early or persisted. These observations should be regarded as a cautionary note concerning the efficacy of high-dose therapy followed by transplantation of unmanipulated autologous stem cells for treatment of severe autoimmune diseases.

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