Previous studies of risk factors for acute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) involved patients receiving predominantly single-agent prophylaxis. Therefore, a retrospective analysis was performed on 446 patients, from a single institution, who received transplants of marrow from HLA-identical siblings and the combination of cyclosporine (CSP) and methotrexate (MTX) to determine risk factors for acute GVHD associated with this more effective form of GVHD prophylaxis. The incidences of Grades II-IV and Grades III-IV (severe) acute GVHD were 35% and 16%, respectively. Increased clinical grades of acute GVHD in patients without advanced malignant disease were associated with a decreased survival. In a multivariate Cox regression analysis, risk factors associated with the onset of Grades II-IV acute GVHD were sex mismatch and donor parity (P = .001), increased dose of total body irradiation (TBI) (P = .001), and reduction to less than 80% of the scheduled dose of MTX (P = .02) or CSP (P = .02). The multivariate analysis indicated a relative risk of 1.37 for acute GVHD in a group defined as having advanced malignant disease at transplant; however, this difference failed to reach conventional levels of statistical significance (P = .07). Reduction of MTX and CSP occurred in up to 36% and 44% of patients, respectively, primarily because of renal or hepatic dysfunction. The periods of increased risk for the onset of acute GVHD were up to 1 week after a reduction of MTX and 2 weeks after a reduction in CSP. When only patients who developed Grades II-IV acute GVHD were considered, the more severe acute GVHD of Grades III-IV was associated with increased patient age of 40 years or greater (P = .05) and dose reductions of CSP (P = .008). Serologic status of patient and donor for cytomegalovirus (CMV), HLA antigens in the A and B loci, and isolation in a laminar air flow room during marrow transplantation, all previously identified as risk factors for acute GVHD, were not confirmed as risk factors in this study population. The toxicity of MTX and CSP and the development of acute GVHD from inadequate immunosuppression because of dose reduction warrants further trials with potentially less toxic immunosuppressive agents. Risk factors for acute GVHD should be considered in clinical management and in the design of clinical trials.
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