Thirty‐three patients with Philadelphia positive (Ph +) chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) treated in chronic phase by bone marrow transplantation (BMT) with T‐cell depleted HLA‐identical sibling marrow were evaluable for relapse at a median follow up of 41 months (range 16‐59 months). Twenty‐six (78%) had Ph+ marrow metaphases demonstrated at some time post BMT. The subsequent pattern of disease was variable. In 15 of these cases haematological relapse occurred within 24 months of BMT. Four patients proceeded to haematological relapse more slowly. Seven patients had only cytogenetic evidence of relapse. Of the 19 patients with haematological relapse, five received second transplants and two survive; 13 of the other 14 survive in chronic phase at median times from allografting and from recognition of haematological relapse of 41 months (range 25‐59 months) and 18 months (range 5‐36 months) respectively. For these 13 patients disease progression after relapse seems to be relatively indolent. In the four patients we could study, blood lymphocytes were almost all of donor origin. We suggest that even in patients with cytogenetic or haematological evidence of relapse after T‐cell depleted BMT, leukaemic cell proliferation may still be restrained to some extent by a graft‐versus‐leukaemia effect mediated by donor‐derived lymphoid cells.
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