Clinical, laboratory, and histopathologic indicators of the development of progressive acute graft-versushost disease

Gary L. Darmstadt, Albert D. Donnenberg, Georgia B. Vogelsang, Evan R. Farmer, Thomas D. Horn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) is the major cause of morbidity and mortality following bone marrow transplantation (BMT). The goal of this study of 69 cyclosporin-treated, allogeneic BMT patients was to identify early clinical, laboratory, or histopathologic indicators of the development of progressive, fatal GvHD. Peak values within 100 d of allogeneic BMT for total bilirubin, stool volume in a day, clinical stage of cutaneous GvHD (based on extent of rash), and overall clinical stage of GvHD (based on a combination of graft-versus-host reactions in the skin, liver, and gastrointestinal tract) were most useful (p < 0.05, by logistic regression) in identifying those patients with clinically progressive and fatal GvHD. Peak values for each of these parameters were reached an average of 40 d or less after BMT. Each unit increase in peak clinical stage of rash (e.g., stage 2 versus stage 3) was associated with an odds ratio incremental risk of 5.8 for clinical progression of GvHD, and each tenfold increase in peak total bilirubin (e.g., 2 mg/dl versus 20 mg/dl) or stool output in a day (e.g., 100 cm3/d versus 1000 cm3/d) was associated with an incremental risk of 8.4 and 10.6, respectively, for a fatal outcome from GvHD. Number of exocytosed lymphocytes and dyskeratotic epidermal keratinocytes (DEK) per linear millimeter of epidermis, the presence of follicular involvement, and the degree of dermal perivascular lymphocytic infiltration in 121 skin biopsy specimens were not associated with the development of progressive or fatal GvHD. Pretransplant total body irradiation was associated (p = 0.03, by Mann-Whitney U testing) with an increased number of DEK in skin biopsy specimens taken less than 20 d after BMT. This study demonstrates that monitoring of total bilirubin, stool output, extent of rash, and overall clinical stage of GvHD is most useful during the first 40 d after BMT in formulating the prognosis of early acute GvHD in allogeneic BMT patients receiving cyclosporin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)397-402
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Investigative Dermatology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Dermatology
  • Cell Biology


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