Aplastic anemia patients who received rabbit antithymocyte globulin exhibited response and survival rates inferior to those who received horse antithymocyte globulin in several studies. Therefore, we conducted a meta-analysis to compare rabbit and horse antithymocyte globulin as immunosuppressive therapy for aplastic anemia. We searched online databases for studies that compared antithymocyte globulin regimens as first-line treatment for aplastic anemia, including both randomized and non-randomized controlled trials. The early mortality rate at 3 months and overall response rate at 6 months were evaluated. Thirteen studies were included in the analysis. The risk ratio (RR) of early mortality for rabbit vs. horse antithymocyte globulin was 1.33 [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.69–2.57; P = 0.39], with significant heterogeneity. A sensitivity analysis suggested higher early mortality rate in patients who received rabbit antithymocyte globulin. The overall response rate was significantly higher in patients who received horse antithymocyte globulin (RR 1.27; 95% CI 1.05–1.54; P = 0.015). In conclusion, in aplastic anemia patients treated with ATG, early mortality rate was not significantly different in patients receiving horse or rabbit ATG, although a sensitivity analysis showed higher early mortality in the rabbit ATG group. Horse ATG was associated with significantly higher response rate than rabbit ATG.
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