α1-Antitrypsin infusion for treatment of steroid-resistant acute graft-versus-host disease

John M. Magenau, Steven C. Goldstein, Dan Peltier, Robert J. Soiffer, Thomas Braun, Attaphol Pawarode, Mary M. Riwes, Maggi Kennel, Joseph H. Antin, Corey S. Cutler, Vincent T. Ho, Edwin P. Alyea III, Brian L. Parkin, Gregory A. Yanik, Sung Won Choi, Eli C. Lewis, Charles A. Dinarello, John Koreth and Pavan Reddy

Key Points

  • AAT infusion produced a high proportion of durable clinical responses in SR-aGVHD.

  • AAT is associated with minimal toxicity and low rates of infection in patients with SR-aGVHD at significant risk for mortality.


Corticosteroid resistance after acute graft-versus-host disease (SR-aGVHD) results in high morbidity and mortality after allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation. Current immunosuppressive therapies for SR-aGVHD provide marginal effectiveness because of poor response or excessive toxicity, primarily from infection. α1-Antitrypsin (AAT), a naturally abundant serine protease inhibitor, is capable of suppressing experimental GVHD by downmodulating inflammation and increasing ratios of regulatory (Treg) to effector T cells (Teffs). In this prospective multicenter clinical study, we sought to determine the safety and response rate of AAT administration in SR-aGVHD. Forty patients with a median age of 59 years received intravenous AAT twice weekly for 4 weeks as first-line treatment of SR-aGVHD. The primary end point was overall response rate (ORR), the proportion of patients with SR-aGVHD in complete (CR) or partial response by day 28 without addition of further immunosuppression. Treatment was well tolerated without drug-related adverse events. A significant increase in serum levels of AAT was observed after treatment. The ORR and CR rates by day 28 were 65% and 35%, respectively, and included responses in all aGVHD target organs. At day 60, responses were sustained in 73% of patients without intervening immunosuppression. Infectious mortality was 10% at 6 months and 2.5% within 30 days of last AAT infusion. Consistent with preclinical data, correlative samples showed an increase in ratio of activated Tregs to Teffs after AAT treatment. These data suggest that AAT is safe and may be potentially efficacious in treating SR-aGVHD. This trial was registered at as #NCT01700036.

  • Submitted November 9, 2017.
  • Accepted January 24, 2018.
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