Immunosuppressive Therapy May Be a Better Treatment for Ocular Graft-Versus-Host-Disease

Current steroid treatment may leave patients with cataracts.

Researchers found no adverse effects from immunosuppressive therapy to treat ocular graft-versus-host-disease (GVHD), a complication from bone marrow transplant.

In a study published in Ophthalmology,40 patients with ocular GVHD were enrolled in a randomized prospective clinical trial.

There were 24 patients treated with topical tacrolimus and 16 patients treated with topical methylprednisolone twice per day for 10 weeks.

Researchers noted that there were no adverse effects for either group of patients.

"We found tacrolimus to be very effective, just as good as the steroid, in the reduction of ocular symptoms of GVHD," Reza Dana, MD, MSc, MPH, said in a press release.

However, in the group receiving topical methylprednisolone, intraocular pressure increased following the completion of the steroids.

"The problem with steroid treatment for ocular GVHD is that it can cause the pressure in the eye to rise, and it can also cause cataracts," Dr. Dana said. "The results of this trial give us reassurance that this is another effective treatment for GVHD, without the negative side effects of steroids. This is a game changer in terms of managing their care."