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Bone Marrow Transplant. 2013 May;48(5):722-8. doi: 10.1038/bmt.2012.210. Epub 2012 Nov 19.

IL15 levels on day 7 after hematopoietic cell transplantation predict chronic GVHD.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.


Chronic GVHD (cGVHD) is an important complication of allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT). As preemptive therapy might be efficacious if administered early post transplant, we set out to determine whether cGVHD can be predicted from the serum level of a biomarker on day 7 or 28. In a discovery cohort of 153 HCT recipients conditioned with BU, fludarabine and rabbit antithymocyte globulin (ATG), we determined serum levels of B-cell-activating factor, vascular endothelial growth factor, soluble TNF-α receptor 1, soluble IL2 receptor α, IL5, IL6, IL7, IL15, γ-glutamyl transpeptidase, cholinesterase, total protein, urea and ATG. Patients with low levels of IL15 (<30.6 ng/L) on day 7 had 2.7-fold higher likelihood of developing significant cGVHD (needing systemic immunosuppressive therapy) than patients with higher IL15 levels (P<0.001). This was validated in a validation cohort of 105 similarly-treated patients; those with low IL15 levels had 3.7-fold higher likelihood of developing significant cGVHD (P=0.001). Low IL15 was not associated with relapse; it trended to be associated with acute GVHD and was associated with low infection rates. In conclusion, low IL15 levels on day 7 are predictive of cGVHD, and thus could be useful in guiding preemptive therapy.

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