This study describes the effects of two major treatment options, splenectomy and/or bone marrow transplantation, on the natural history of the Wiskott-Aldrich (WAS) syndrome. The records of 62 patients with the WAS evaluated at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center from 1966 to 1992 were reviewed. Nineteen patients were treated with bone marrow transplantation (BMT) and the results were largely dependent on the source of the graft. Twelve of 12 patients receiving HLA-matched sibling marrow achieved satisfactory immunologic and hematologic reconstitution. By contrast, only 2 of 7 patients receiving haploidentical, parental, or matched unrelated marrow survived more than 1 year after BMT. Thirty-nine patients who lacked suitable bone marrow donors early in their course underwent splenectomy for management of their thrombocytopenia; most received prophylactic antibiotics to minimize the risk of sepsis. Nearly all these patients achieved normal platelet counts and the rate of serious bleeding was reduced nearly sevenfold. Median survival in the untransplanted splenectomy group was 25 years, compared with less than 5 years in unsplenectomized patients. We conclude that HLA-matched sibling donor BMT is the treatment of choice for patients with WAS and that splenectomy and daily prophylactic antibiotics provide a significant survival advantage to those boys without a matched sibling donor. Splenectomy should probably be used in preference to unmatched BMT until results with alternative donor BMT significantly improve or gene therapy becomes available.
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