Role of Cytokines in the Pathophysiology of Acute Graft-Versus-Host Disease (GVHD)– Are Serum/Plasma Cytokines Potential Biomarkers for Diagnosis of Acute GVHD Following Allogeneic Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation (Allo-HCT)?
Due to the advent of less-toxic reduced intensity conditioning regimens (RIT), allogeneic hematopoietic cell
transplantation (allo-HCT) is currently widely used to treat chemotherapy-resistant hematological diseases, particularly in
older patients,which are the fastest growing group of patients receiving allo-HCT. However, graft-versus-host disease
(GVHD) is still the major complication after allo-HCT, causing immune deficiency, infection, organ damage, and occasionally
patient death. Mortality from GVHD is in part attributed to the difficulty in making accurate diagnosis and determining
the optimal timing for appropriate treatment. The diagnosis of acute GVHD is dependent on clinical features and
is sometimes indistinguishable from other causes and requires invasive procedures. Therefore, non-invasive, diagnostic
and predictive monitoring tools, such as plasma/serum biomarkers, are needed. Determination of the roles of cytokines in
the physiopathology of acute GVHD has provided an explanation for many preclinical and clinical observations. However,
measurement of a single cytokine lacks specificity for GVHD diagnosis. Therefore, comprehensive assessment of
plasma/serum cytokine concentrations is required to identify a panel of biomarkers with good specificity and sensitivity
for GVHD. In this review, we summarize the roles of individual cytokines in the pathophysiology of acute GVHD and
discuss the possibility of cytokines as biomarkers of acute GVHD after allo-HCT.
Keywords: Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo-HCT), biomarker, cytokine, graft-versus-host disease
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