Definitions, incidence and outcome of poor graft function after hematopoietic cell transplantation: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Konradin F Müskens, Caroline A Lindemans, Rana Dandis, Stefan Nierkens, Mirjam E Belderbos*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Poor graft function (PGF) after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HCT) is a serious complication with high morbidity and mortality. The reported incidence of PGF, its risk factors and outcome vary substantially between studies. This variability may be explained by heterogeneity in patient cohorts and HCT strategies, differences in the underlying causes of cytopenia, as well as by differences in PGF definition. In this systematic review and meta-analysis, we provide an overview of the various PGF definitions used and determined the impact of this variability on the reported incidence and outcome. We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE and Web of Science up to July 2022, for any study on PGF in HCT recipients. We performed random-effect meta-analyses for incidence and outcome and subgroup analyses based on different PGF criteria. Among 69 included studies (14.265 HCT recipients), we found 63 different PGF definitions, using various combinations of 11 common criteria. The median incidence of PGF was 7% (IQR: 5-11%, 22 cohorts). The pooled survival of PGF patients was 53% (95% CI: 45-61%, 23 cohorts). The most commonly reported risk factors associated with PGF were history of cytomegalovirus infection and prior graft-versus-host disease. Incidence was lower in studies with strict cytopenic cutoffs, while survival was lower for primary compared to secondary PGF. This work indicates that a standardized, quantitative definition of PGF is needed to facilitate clinical guideline development and to advance scientific progress.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101076
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalBlood Reviews
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023


  • Cytomegalovirus Infections/etiology
  • Graft vs Host Disease/diagnosis
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation/adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Risk Factors
  • Hematopoietic cell transplantation
  • Poor graft function
  • Bone marrow transplantation
  • Systematic review, outcome


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