Pulmonary hemorrhage as a cause of death in allogeneic bone marrow recipients with severe acute graft-versus-host disease

Kirk J. Wojno, Georgia B. Vogelsang, William E. Bescnorner, George W. Santos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Acute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) has recently been associated with endothelial cell injury. The potential clinical significance was explored here in an autopsy review. Thirty-seven allogeneic bone marrow recipients were identified in the autopsy files at The Johns Hopkins Hospital with no evidence of systemic infection. Forty-one percent (15/37) of these patients were found to have extensive recent pulmonary hemorrhage at autopsy which was thought to have led to terminal respiratory failure and death. The 37 patients were divided into 2 groups: those with significant acute GVHD (stage 2 or greater) and those without GVHD (stage 0 or 1). Fifty-nine percent (10/17) of the patients with significant acute GVHD died of acute respiratory failure due to recent pulmonary hemorrhage as opposed to 25% (5/20) of those without acute GVHD (Pa0.032, Fisher’s exact test). Terminal pulmonary hemorrhage was also associated with preparation for BMT, with 67% (12/18) of those prepared with total body irradiation (TBI) having pulmonary hemorrhage as opposed to 15% (3/19) of those prepared with chemotherapy using Busulphan (P=0.002). There was no significant difference in posttransplant survival, engraftment, or final platelet count between the patients stratified by GVHD or preparative protocol. The data support a strong association between significant acute GVHD and terminal hemorrhage, as well a possible association between TBI and pulmonary hemorrhage. Analysis of variance demonstrates that GVHD and TBI are independently associated with increased pulmonary hemorrhage (P<0.01 for GVHD, P<0.001 for TBI). We propose that GVHD contributes to terminal pulmonary hemorrhage by injuring the endothelium. However, this association could also be a secondary effect, i.e., toxicity from therapy for GVHD, or an abnormality in cytokines or growth factors. The pathogenic relationship between significant GVHD and terminal hemorrhage is discussed briefly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)88-92
Number of pages5
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Transplantation


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