Background. Hemorrhagic complications are frequently implicated clinically for the high morbidity and mortality of acute graft versus host disease (GVHD), however, only few reports characterize the incidence and timing of bleeding in relation to GVHD, and essentially no study has quantified the effect of bleeding on survival of allogeneic patients with GVHD. This study examines the association of bleeding with acute GVHD and the effect of both complications on survival. Methods. A total of 463 allogeneic patients transplanted at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, were included in the study. Bleeding evaluation was based on daily scores of intensity and blood transfusions. All bleeding sites were recorded. GVHD staging was defined by the extent of rash, serum bilirubin, diarrhea, and confirmatory histology. Results. The incidence of GVHD was 27.4%, bleeding occurred in 40.2%. The incidence of bleeding was higher in patients with GVHD as compared with non- GVHD, and correlated with GVHD severity. The higher bleeding incidence in GVHD was due to gastrointestinal hemorrhage, hemorrhagic cystitis, and pulmonary hemorrhage. While the majority of bleeding (51/75) in non-GVHD patients initiated within 30 days after bone marrow transplantation (BMT), only 32.3% (21/65) of the bleeding in the GVHD group initiated within 30 days, and the risk for bleeding continued until day 100. Bleeding was a late event compared to GHD, however, most bleeding episodes were associated with active GVHD. Both GVHD and bleeding were individually associated with reduced survival, with profound additive adverse effect: median survival in 221 nonbleeding non-GVHD was >83.2 months, GVHD nonbleeding (39 patients) had median of 10.6 months, bleeding non-GVHD (99 patients) had median of 4.3 months, and median survival of the GVHD bleeding group (85 patients) was 3.2 months. Conclusions. Our results support an association of bleeding with acute GVHD, suggesting that GVHD is a risk factor for bleeding after BMT. The occurrence of bleeding clearly identified poor outcome subgroup within GVHD, suggesting further evaluation for clinical application of bleeding in the assessment of GVHD severity.
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