High-dose individualized antithymocyte globulin with therapeutic drug monitoring in high-risk cord blood transplant

Rick Admiraal, A Birgitta Versluijs, Alwin D R Huitema, Lysette Ebskamp, Amelia Lacna, C T Klaartje de Kanter, Marc B Bierings, Jaap Jan Boelens, Caroline A Lindemans, Stefan Nierkens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) and rejection are main limitations of cord blood transplantation (CBT), more so in patients with severe inflammation or previous rejections. While rigorous T-cell depletion with antithymocyte globulin (ATG) is needed to prevent GvHD and rejection, overexposure to ATG leads to slow T-cell recovery after transplantation, especially in CBT.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate high-dose, upfront ATG with individualized dosing and therapeutic drug monitoring (TDM) in pediatric CBT for patients at high risk for GvHD and rejection.

STUDY DESIGN: Heavily inflamed patients and patients with a recent history of rejection were eligible for individualized high-dose ATG with real-time TDM. The ATG dosing scheme was adjusted to target a post-CBT exposure of <10 AU*day/mL, while achieving a pre-CBT exposure of 60-120 AU*day/mL; exposure levels previously defined for optimal efficacy and safety in terms of reduced GvHD and rejection, respectively. Main outcomes of interest included efficacy (target exposure attainment) and safety (incidence of GvHD and rejection). Other outcomes of interest included T-cell recovery and survival.

RESULTS: Twenty-one patients were included ranging from 2 months to 18 years old, receiving an actual median cumulative dose of ATG of 13.3 mg/kg (range 6-30 mg/kg) starting at a median 15 days (range 12-17) prior to CBT. Dosing was adjusted in 14 patients (increased in 3 and decreased in 11 patients). Eighteen (86%) and 19 (91%) patients reached the target pre-CBT and post-CBT exposure, respectively. Cumulative incidence for acute GvHD was 34% (95% CI 23-45) and 5% (95% CI 0-10%) for grade 2-4 and grade 3-4, respectively; cumulative incidence of rejection was 9% (95% CI 2-16%). Overall survival was 75% (95% CI 65-85%).

CONCLUSION: Individualized high-dose ATG with TDM is feasible and safe for patients with hyperinflammation in a CBT setting. We observe high target ATG exposure attainment, good immune reconstitution (despite very high doses of ATG) and acceptable rates of GvHD and rejection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)599-605
Number of pages7
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024


  • Humans
  • Antilymphocyte Serum/administration & dosage
  • Child
  • Graft vs Host Disease/drug therapy
  • Male
  • Female
  • Cord Blood Stem Cell Transplantation/methods
  • Adolescent
  • Child, Preschool
  • Drug Monitoring/methods
  • Infant
  • Graft Rejection/drug therapy
  • T-Lymphocytes/immunology
  • Immunosuppressive Agents/therapeutic use


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