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Bone Marrow Transplant. 2000 Jun;25(12):1269-78.

Mucosal barrier injury: biology, pathology, clinical counterparts and consequences of intensive treatment for haematological malignancy: an overview.

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  • 1Department of Hematology, University Medical Center St Radboud, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


Mucositis is an inevitable side-effect of the conditioning regimens used for haematopoietic stem cell transplantation. The condition is better referred to as mucosal barrier injury (MBI) since it is primarily the result of toxicity and is a complex and dynamic pathobiological process manifested not only in the mouth but also throughout the entire digestive tract. A model has been proposed for oral MBI and consists of four phases, namely inflammatory, epithelial, ulcerative and healing phases. A variety of factors are involved in causing and modulating MBI including the nature of the conditioning regimen, the elaboration of pro-inflammatory and other cytokines, translocation of the resident microflora and their products, for example, endotoxins across the mucosal barrier, exposure to antimicrobial agents and whether or not the haematopoietic stem cell graft is from a donor. Neutropenic typhlitis is the most severe gastrointestinal manifestation of MBI, but it also influences the occurrence of other major transplant-related complications including acute GVHD, veno-occlusive disease and systemic infections. The pathobiology, clinical counterparts and the means of measuring MBI are discussed together with potential approaches for prevention, amelioration and, perhaps, even cure. Bone Marrow Transplantation (2000) 25, 1269-1278.

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