Background: Allogeneic graft-versus-host disease is associated with decreased rates of tumor relapse. The addition of interferon gamma to cyclosporine, given to induce graft-versus-host disease after autologous bone marrow transplantation, increases the extent of the cutaneous eruption. Objective: Our purpose was to describe the clinical and histologic cutaneous changes in 10 patients with breast cancer who received interferon gamma to potentiate graft-versus-host disease after autologous bone marrow transplantation modified by cyclosporine. Methods: Ten women receiving autologous bone marrow transplantation modified by the administration of cyclosporine and interferon gamma were observed clinically with sequential biopsy of the skin weekly and at the time of cutaneous eruptions. Results: Erythroderma (stage 3) developed in five women after the first or second administration of interferon gamma. At least one skin biopsy specimen from 7 of the 10 women showed grade 2 changes of graft-versus-host reaction, including all patients with erythroderma. Epidermal intercellular edema was prominent in these specimens with expression of keratinocyte HLA-DR and intercellular adhesion molecule 1. Induction of keratinocyte HLA-DR and intercellular adhesion molecule 1 expression was not observed in specimens from normal skin during administration of interferon gamma. Conclusion: This protocol causes a more widely distributed cutaneous eruption, including erythroderma (50%), than autologous bone marrow transplantation and cyclosporine administration alone (3%). Whether it will affect survival is unknown.
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