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Novel Immunosuppressive Strategies for Bone Marrow Failure Syndromes: A Focus on Alemtuzumab

[ Vol. 11 , Issue. 6 ]


C. Selleri, B. Serio and A. M. Risitano   Pages 536 - 543 ( 8 )


Acquired bone marrow failure syndromes (BMFS) are a heterogeneous group of hematological disorders characterized by impaired bone marrow function and subsequent cytopenia of one or more blood cell lineages [1,2]. The well-accepted pathogenic mechanism of the typical bone marrow failure – aplastic anemia (AA) – is a T cell mediated immune attack targeting the hematopoietic tissue [3]. This pathogenic mechanism is at least partially shared by other bone marrow failure syndromes, such as lineage-restricted aplasias and some myelodysplastic syndromes. Thus, for these disorders immunosuppression (IS) is the pivotal etiologic treatment. While the standard IS regimen include the heterologous anti-thymocyte globulin [4], here we review the recent data on the anti-CD52 monoclonal antibody alemtuzumab as a novel IS agent for marrow failures. Alemtuzumab led to objective responses in aplastic anemia patients in 3 recent prospective studies, with overall response rates ranging between 37% and 72%. Adverse events were irrelevant, ruling out even the concerns about the risk of infectious complications. Alemtuzumab was effective even for the treatment of lineage-restricted marrow failure, with very acceptable toxicity and excellent response rates (as high as 80%). More recently, even patients suffering from myelodysplastic syndromes showed a remarkable hematological response to alemtuzumab-based IS treatment. Thus, alemtuzumab is a novel IS agent representing an excellent alternative to ATG for all immune-mediated marrow failure syndromes. Even if the dose and the schedule may still require further refining, the available data support the need of large prospective trials comparing alemtuzumab to current standard IS regimens.


Bone marrow failure, aplastic anemia, alemtuzumab, Acquired, bone marrow failure syndromes, heterogeneous, hematological, cytopenia, lineages, pathogenic, hematopoietic, myelodysplastic, immunosuppression


Hematology, Department of Biochemistry and Medical Biotechnologies, Federico II University ofNaples, Via Pansini 5–80131 Naples, Italy.

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