Background: Acute graft-versus-host disease (aGVHD) is an important complication of allogeneic stem cell transplantation (alloSCT). High dose glucocorticosteroids, are currently recommended as first-line treatment for grade II-IV aGVHD resulting in overall complete responses (CR) in 40%-50% of patients. No standard second-line regimen has been established. Different options have been reported, including anti-TNFα antibodies. Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the outcome of 15 patients with steroid-refractory (SR) aGVHD treated with etanercept at our institution. Patients were transplanted for a hematological malignancy and received either a myeloablative or a non-myeloablative conditioning regimen. Prophylaxis of GVHD consisted of cyclosporin A and mycophenolic acid. Results: Acute GVHD was diagnosed at a median of 61 days post-transplantation. All patients had grade III aGVHD of the gut. Second-line treatment with etanercept was started at a median of 13 days after initiation of first-line therapy. Overall response rate was 53%, with CR in 3 patients and PR in 5 patients. Median overall survival after initiation of treatment with etanercept was 66 days (range 5–267) for the entire group. Median overall survival was 99 days (range 47–267 days) for responders and 17 days (range 5–66 days) for non-responders (p<0.01). Nevertheless, all patients died. Causes of death were progressive GVHD in 7 patients (47%), infection in 6 patients (40%), cardiac death in 1 patient (6.7%) and relapse in 1 patient (6,7%). Conclusion: Second-line treatment with etanercept does induce responses in SR-aGVHD of the gut but appears to be associated with poor long-term survival even in responding patients.,
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

de Jong, C., Saes, L., Klerk, C.P.W. (Clara P. W.), van der Klift, M., Cornelissen, J., & Broers, A. (2017). Etanercept for steroid-refractory acute graft-versus-host disease. PLoS ONE, 12(10). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0187184