Thirty-four patients received bone marrow transplants from unrelated donors. Donors and recipients were phenotypically matched for 6 of 6 HLA-A, B, and DR antigens in 27 cases and at 5 of 6 antigens in 7 cases. Twenty-three patients had leukemia, six had myelodysplasia, and five had aplastic anemia. Twenty-four patients had durable engraftment. Five died of sepsis prior to engraftment. Five patients failed to engraft; 2 of these patients had autologous bone marrow recovery. Seventeen patients developed grade >II acute graft-versus-host disease for an actuarial probability of 67±20%. The severity of acute graft-versus-host disease and its mortality appeared increased for recipients matched for 5 of 6 HLA-A, B, and DR antigens. Of the 34 patients, 13 (38%) are alive; actuarial survival beyond 6 months is 44±17%. None of the 25 leukemia and myelodysplasia patients achieving engraftment have relapsed. For leukemia and myelodysplasia recipients of 6 of 6 HLA-matched grafts, actuarial survival at 6 months was 55±21% compared with 14±26% for recipients matched for 5 of 6 HLA loci (P=0.19). Infection and acute graft-versus-host disease were the primary causes of death in the engrafted patients. Survival for aplastic anemia patients was 20%. Late deaths due to pneumonia and bronchiolitis obliterans occurred after one year in 2 patients. Closely matched unrelated donor bone marrow transplants are associated with a higher incidence of graft failure and graft-versus-host disease than typically reported for transplants from HLA-identical siblings, but these preliminary data suggest a lower rate of relapse.
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