BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Medical Policy Manual

Donor Lymphocyte Infusion for Hematologic Malignancies Treated with an Allogeneic Hematopoietic Stem-Cell Transplant


Treatment options are limited for individuals with a hematologic malignancy that relapses after an allogeneic peripheral blood stem cell or bone marrow transplant. Donor lymphocyte infusion (DLI), also referred to as donor leukocyte infusion, involves obtaining a concentrated sample of cells from the original donor and then infusing it into the relapsed individual. The DLI therapeutic effect results from a graft-versus-leukemic or graft-versus-tumor effect due to recognition of certain antigens on the cancer cells by the donor lymphocytes and the resultant elimination of the tumor cells.

Donor lymphocyte infusions have been investigated for a variety of hematologic malignancies, including chronic myeloid leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia, acute lymphocytic leukemia, and multiple myeloma.



*Full chimerism refers to an individual who exhibits post-transplant characteristics, (phenotype) in hematopoietic cells that are all of donor origin. Mixed chimerism refers to an individual which exhibits a mixture of their own and donor characteristics, (phenotype) in hematopoietic cells after hematopoietic stem-cell transplant.



Caldemeyer, L.E., Akard, L.P., Edwards, J.R., Tandra, A., Wagenknecht, D.R., & Dugan, M.J. (2017). Donor lymphocyte infusions used to treat mixed-chimeric and high-risk patient populations in the relapsed and nonrelapsed settings after allogeneic transplantation for hematologic malignancies are associated with high five-year survival if persistent full donor chimerism is obtained or maintained. Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation, 23 (11), 1989-1997. Abstract retrieved August 22, 2019 from PubMed database.

Eefting, M., Halkes, C., de Wreede, L., van Pelt, C., Kersting, S., Marijt, E., et al. (2014). Myeloablative T cell-depleted alloSCT with early sequential prophylactic donor lymphocyte infusion is an efficient and safe post-remission treatment for adult ALL. Bone Marrow Transplantation, 49, 287-291. (Level 4 evidence)

El-Jurdi, N., Reljic, T., Kumar, A., Pidala, J., Bazarbachi, A., Djulbegovic, B., & Kharfan-Dabaja, M. (2013). Efficacy of adoptive immunotherapy with donor lymphocyte infusion in relapsed lymphoid malignancies. Immunotherapy, 5 (5), 457-466. Abstract retrieved October 14, 2016 from PubMed database.

Liou, A., Wahlstrom, J.T., Dvorak, C.C., & Horn, B.N. (2017). Safety of pre-emptive donor lymphocyte infusions (DLI) based on mixed chimerism (MC) in peripheral blood or bone marrow subsets in children undergoing hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) for hematologic malignancies. Bone Marrow Transplantation, 52 (7), 1027-1059. (Level 3 evidence)

National Comprehensive Cancer Network. (2018, August). NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN GuidelinesĀ®). Chronic myeloid leukemia (V. 1.2019). Retrieved August 16, 2018 from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.

National Comprehensive Cancer Network. (2019, June). NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN GuidelinesĀ®). Multiple myeloma (V. 3.2019). Retrieved August 22, 2019 from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.

National Comprehensive Cancer Network. (2019, May). NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN GuidelinesĀ®). Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (V. 2.2019). Retrieved August 22, 2019 from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.

Takami, A., Yano, S., Yokoyama, H., Kuwatsuka, Y., Yamaguchi, T., Kanda, Y., et al. (2014). Donor lymphocyte infusion for the treatment of relapsed acute myeloid leukemia after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation: a retrospective analysis by the adult acute myeloid leukemia working group of the Japan Society for Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation. Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation, 20, 1785-1790. (Level 4 evidence)

Vaezi, M., Zokaasadi, M., Pour, S.S., Kasaeian, A., Nikbakht, M., Fumani, K., et al. (2018). The role of donor leukocyte infusions in the treatment of relapsed acute leukemia after allogeneic stem cell transplantation: a retrospective analysis. International Journal of Hematology-Oncology and Stem Cell Research, 12 (3), 185-191. (Level 4 evidence)

Yan, C., Wang, Y., Wang, J., Chen, Y., Chen, Y., Wang, F., et al. (2016). Minimal residual disease- and graft-vs.-host disease-guided multiple consolidation chemotherapy and donor lymphocyte infusion prevent second acute leukemia relapse after allotransplant. Journal of Hematology & Oncology, 9, 87. (Level 4 evidence)




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