## Low B cell counts as risk factor for infectious complications in systemic sclerosis after autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation

Please always quote using this URN: urn:nbn:de:bvb:20-opus-229962
• Background Autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (aHSCT) is a treatment option for a selected group of systemic sclerosis (SSc) patients with good available evidence but can be associated with considerable morbidity and mortality. The aim of this study was to describe infectious complications and distinct immune reconstitution patterns after aHSCT and to detect risk factors in lymphocyte subsets, which are associated with an elevated rate of infections after aHSCT. Methods Seventeen patients with SSc were included in thisBackground Autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (aHSCT) is a treatment option for a selected group of systemic sclerosis (SSc) patients with good available evidence but can be associated with considerable morbidity and mortality. The aim of this study was to describe infectious complications and distinct immune reconstitution patterns after aHSCT and to detect risk factors in lymphocyte subsets, which are associated with an elevated rate of infections after aHSCT. Methods Seventeen patients with SSc were included in this single-center retrospective cohort study. Clinical and laboratory data was collected before and for 12 months after aHSCT, including immunophenotyping of peripheral whole blood by fluorescence-activated cell sorting. Results Cytomegalovirus (CMV) reactivations were common in CMV-IgG-positive patients (50%) and needed treatment. Mycotic infections occurred in 17.6%. One patient died (resulting in a mortality of 5.9%) due to pneumonia with consecutive sepsis. All patients showed decreased T helper cells (CD3$$^+$$/CD4$$^+$$) and within the B cell compartment decreased post-switched memory B cells (CD19$$^+$$/CD27$$^+$$/IgD$$^-$$) and elevated naive B cells (CD19$$^+$$/CD27$$^-$$/IgD$$^+$$) until 12 months after aHSCT. Patients who developed infections had significantly lower B cells before aHSCT than patients who did not develop infections. Conclusion After aHSCT, monitoring for infectious complications, especially for CMV reactivations, is crucial as the reconstitution of the immune system takes longer than 12 months. Low peripheral B cells might be a risk factor for an elevated infection rate.