Background: Conventional therapy achieves high initial response rates in follicular (FL) and mantle cell lymphoma (MCL), but even after introduction of combined immuno-chemotherapy, a continuous relapse pattern has been observed. The introduction of dose-reduced conditioning prior to allogeneic peripheral blood stem cell transplantation significantly reduced early treatment-associated toxicity of this curative approach. In 2003, the German Low Grade Lymphoma Study Group initiated a prospective phase II trial to investigate the feasibility and efficacy of this approach in a multi center approach.

Methods: Patients with a high risk profile (bulky disease, 3 lymph nodes >3 cm, elevated LDH, >20% bone marrow infiltration, hematopoietic insufficiency) received a conventional salvage chemotherapy, e.g. 2–4x (R-)FCM. Subsequently, all patients received a dose-reduced conditioning (30 mg/m2 fludarabine d-7-4, 30 mg/m2 cyclophosphamide d-4-3) and an optional low dose TBI (2–4 Gray, d-8). Immunosupression consisted of ATG-Fresenius (10mg/m2 bs d-3-1 if unrelated donor), cyclosporine A starting day −1 and mycophenolat (2× 15mg/kg). If T-cell chimerism was established after discontinuation of immunosuppression, donor lymphocyte infusion was applied on days +120, +150 and +180 with increasing doses (2× 105–107/kg) in cases of persistent lymphoma.

Results: After a median follow-up of 17 months, a total of 32 patients are evaluable (21 FL and 11 MCL). Median age was 48.5 years (34–62) with a median of 3 prior therapies (1–8). Eigth patients had a family donor and 24 were transplanted from an unrelated donor (no mismatch in 25 and 1 mismatch in 8 cases). 2 early infectious deaths were observed at day 30 and 87 resulting in a treatment-associated mortality (d100) of 6% and another death after 1014 days. After 2 years follow-up, failure-free and overall survival rates were 73% and 77%, respectively. As expected, failure-free survival rates differed significantly between FL (80%) and MCL patients (60%).

Discussion: This multicenter trial confirms allogeneic stem cell transplantation with dose-reduced conditioning achieving long-term remissions especially in patients with relapsed FL with rather low mortality. Thus, in younger high risk patients, this therapeutic option should be discussed in relapsed disease. Randomized or case-control trials are warranted to exactly define the role of allogeneic transplantation in FL and MCL.

Author notes

Disclosure:Honoraria Information: Roche, Schering: speakers honorarium (W.H., M.D.). Membership Information: Roche: Advisory board (W.H.).