Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant is an established treatment modality for hematologic and non-hematologic diseases. However, it is associated with acute and long-term sequelae which can translate into mortality. Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) remains a glaring obstacle, especially with the advent of reduced-intensity conditioning. Serotherapy capitalizes on antibodies which target T cells and other immune cells to mitigate this effect. This article focuses on the utility of two such agents: anti-thymocyte globulin (ATG) and alemtuzumab. ATG has demonstrated benefit in prophylaxis against GVHD, especially in the chronic presentation. However, there is limited impact of ATG on overall survival and it has little utility in the treatment context. There may be an initial improvement, particularly in skin manifestations, but no substantial benefit has been elicited. Alemtuzumab has shown benefit in both prophylaxis and treatment of GVHD, but at the consequence of a more profound immunosuppressive phase, mandating aggressive viral prophylaxis. There remains heterogeneity in the doses and regimens of the agents, with no standardized protocol in place. Furthermore, it seems that once steroid-refractory GVHD has been established, there is little that can be offered to offset the ultimately dismal outcome. Here we present a systematic overview of ATG- or alemtuzumab-based serotherapy in the prophylaxis and management of GVHD.
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