Cord blood transplantation (CBT) became one of the important alternatives in allogeneic stem cell transplantation for children with hematological malignancies. We have analyzed the clinical outcomes of CBT for children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in Japan and identified risk factors of transplant outcome, when they had no prior transplant. From 1997 to 2006, total 332 children with ALL have undergone CBT from unrelated donor and 270 of them had no prior transplant. They are 0–15 yrs (median 5) and 4 to 60kg of body weight (median 18). Serological disparities of HLA for graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) direction were 0(n=54), 1(n=168) and 2(n=47), and disease status at transplant were 1st complete remission (CR) (n=120), 2nd CR (n=71), and more advanced stages (n=75). The median number of nucleated cells in cord blood unit was 4.93×107/kg (1.35–24.9), and that of CD34+ cells was 1.53×105/kg (0.17–15.0). As preconditioning, total body irradiation (TBI) was given in 194 patients and methotrexate (MTX) was given as GVHD prophylaxis in 159 patients. The neutrophil engraftment was achieved in 88.5% (95%CI: 84.1–91.8%) of patients and platelet engraftment (>50k) was obtained in 72.6% (95%CI: 66.8–77.7). The incidence of grade II–IV and III–IV acute GVHD was 45.6% (95%CI: 39.5–51.4) and 20.4% (95%CI: 15.8–25.4) respectively. Non-relapse mortality was observed in 22.6% (95%CI: 17.7–27.8) and 35.2% (95%CI: 29.2–41.3) of patients relapsed after CBT. The five year event free survival (EFS) of all patients was 38.1% (95%CI: 34.9–41.3); 47.4%(95%CI: 42.4–52.4) in 1st CR, 45.5%(95%CI: 38.9–52.1) in 2nd CR and 15.2%(95%CI: 10.8–38.9) in more advanced stages, respectively. The multivariate analysis revealed that the larger number of CD34+ cells (p<0.01) and administration of granulocyte colony stimulating factor after CBT (p<0.01) were associated with earlier neutrophil engraftment. Preconditioning with TBI (p<0.01) and absence of MTX (p=0.037) significantly affected the development of grade II-IV acute GVHD. Advanced disease at transplant was the most predominant factor for leukemic relapse (p<0.01). GVHD prophylaxis with MTX (p=0.042), less allele mismatches (p=0.013) and disease status of 1st and 2nd CR at transplant (p<0.01) were significantly associated with better EFS. Our results showed the favorable effect of MTX for the development of acute GVHD and EFS. In conclusion, GVHD prophylaxis including MTX is important in CBT for children with ALL.

Author notes

Disclosure: No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.