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This article, first published by Frontiers Media, is the author's final published version in Frontiers in Immunology, Volume 14, 2023, Article number 1237782.

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Copyright © 2023 Ibikunle, Grosso and Gergis.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.


Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) provides the only potentially curative option for multiple hematological conditions. However, allogeneic HSCT outcomes rely on an optimal balance of effective immune recovery, minimal graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), and lasting control of disease. The quest to attain this balance has proven challenging over the past few decades. The two-step approach to HSCT was conceptualized and pioneered at Thomas Jefferson University in 2005 and remains the main platform for allografting at our institution. Following administration of the transplant conditioning regimen, patients receive a fixed dose of donor CD3+ cells (HSCT step one-DLI) as the lymphoid portion of the graft on day -6 with the aim of optimizing and controlling T cell dosing. Cyclophosphamide (CY) is administered after the DLI (days -3 and -2) to induce donor-recipient bidirectional tolerance. On day 0, a CD34-selected stem cell graft is given as the myeloid portion of the graft (step two). In this two-step approach, the stem cell graft is infused after CY tolerization, which avoids exposure of the stem cells to an alkylating agent, allowing rapid count recovery. Here, the two-step platform is described with a focus on key results from studies over the past two decades. Finally, this review details lessons learned and current strategies to optimize the graft-versus-tumor effect and limit transplant-related toxicities.

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