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Bone Marrow Transplant. 1992 Aug;10(2):153-6.

Adhesion molecule expression in human hepatic graft-versus-host disease.

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  • 1Department of Histopathology, Royal Marsden Hospital, Sutton, Surrey, UK.


An immunohistological study of the distribution of three cellular adhesion molecules, ICAM-1, VCAM-1 and ELAM-1, was undertaken on normal liver and liver biopsies taken from allogeneic bone marrow transplant (BMT) recipients. In normal controls, ICAM-1 was seen on vascular endothelium and sinusoidal lining cells, and VCAM-1 on Kuppfer cells and dendritic macrophages in portal tracts. ELAM-1 staining was virtually absent. Biopsies from BMT recipients with histological evidence of hepatic graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) showed ICAM-1 expression on damaged bile duct epithelium in only one of five cases, in contrast to four of five showing epithelial HLA-DR expression. Increased numbers of VCAM-1 positive portal tract macrophages were seen in GVHD and also in non-GVHD pathology. No increase in vascular endothelial expression of VCAM-1 or ELAM-1 was seen. These findings contrast with previous studies on other target sites for GVHD, namely skin and gastrointestinal tract, where the expression of all three molecules is increased on various cells. Although the lack of adhesion molecule expression in the liver in GVHD in this study may be related to the timing of biopsies or immunosuppressive therapy, it is likely to represent to some extent variation in cell and molecular changes occurring in the different tissues affected by GVHD.

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