Introduction: Steroid-refractory cGVHD (SR-cGVHD) presents new great challenges for treatment. We have reported that imatinib monotherapy was effective to SR-cGVHD, but the CR rate was not satisfactory and the benefit was not showed specific to some target organs, previously. Imatinib and statin drugs have been recognized to regulate T-cell function, statins also have been demonstrated endothelia protection, but whether this combination therapy was able to improve the efficacy remains unknown. Therefore, we designed this prospective, single-arm, open-label trial to investigate the efficacy of imatinib-based combination therapy in the treatment of SR-cGVHD for the first time. Methods: Sixty SR-cGVHD patients were entered into this trial to investigate the combination of imatinib mesylate and atorvastatin calcium for the treatment of SR-cGVHD. The primary endpoint included the overall response rate (ORR) after 6 months of combined treatment. The secondary endpoints included an evaluation of survival, changes in T-cell subsets, and adverse events. Results: At baseline, 45% (27/60) of patients had moderate cGVHD, and 55.0% (33/60) of patients had severe cGVHD. At the 6-month follow-up, a clinical response was achieved in 70.0% of patients, and a complete response (CR) was achieved in 26.7%. A total of 11.7% (7/60) of patients stopped immunosuppressive therapy at this point. After 6 months of treatment, the ORR rates of the liver, skin, eyes, and oral cavity were 80.6%, 78.1%, 61.5%, and 60.9%, respectively, with the liver also having the highest CR of 58.1%. The patients with moderate cGVHD had a better CR rate than those with severe cGVHD (55.6% vs. 3.0%, p < 0.0001). The overall survival in patients with ORR was improved (p = 0.0106). Lung involvement is an independent risk factor to affected ORR achievement (p = 0.021, HR = 0.335, 95% CI: 0.133–0.847), and the dosage of steroids was reduced in ORR patients. In clinical response patients, the ratio of CD8+ T cells (p = 0.0117) and Th17 cells (p = 0.0171) decreased, while the number of Treg cells (p = 0.0147) increased after 3 months. The most common adverse events were edema, nausea, and neutropenia, which were 13.3%, 11.7%, and 11.7%, respectively. Conclusion: Combination treatment with imatinib mesylate and atorvastatin calcium was effective in treating SR-cGVHD and significantly decreased target organ injury, especially liver damage, indicating that T-cell regulatory function may play an important role in this process.

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