Background There is evidence suggesting that sirolimus, in combination with tacrolimus, is active in the prevention of graft-versus-host disease. Sirolimus-based immune suppression may suppress alloreactive T cells, while sparing the survival and function of regulatory T cells. Design and Methods We conducted a randomized trial to compare the impact of sirolimus/tacrolimus against that of methotrexate/tacrolimus on the prevention of graft-versus-host disease and regulatory T-cell reconstitution. Results Seventy-four patients were randomized 1:1 to sirolimus/tacrolimus or methotrexate/ tacrolimus, stratified for type of donor (sibling or unrelated) and the patients' age. The rate of grade II-IV acute graft-versus-host disease at 100 days was 43% (95% CI: 27-59%) in the sirolimus/tacrolimus group and 89% (95% CI: 72-96%) in the methotrexate/tacrolimus group (P<0.001). The rate of moderate/severe chronic graft-versus-host disease was 24% (95% CI: 7- 47%) in the sirolimus/tacrolimus group and 64% (95% CI: 41-79%) in the methotrexate/tacrolimus group (P=0.008). Overall survival and patient-reported quality of life did not differ between the two groups. On days 30 and 90 post-transplant, sirolimus-treated patients had a significantly greater proportion of regulatory T cells among the CD4+ cells in the peripheral blood, and isolated regulatory T cells were functional. Conclusions These data demonstrate that sirolimus/tacrolimus prevents grade II-IV acute graft-versus-host disease and moderate-severe chronic graft-versus-host disease more effectively than does methotrexate/tacrolimus, and supports regulatory T-cell reconstitution following allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation.
- Combination therapy
- GVHD prophylaxis