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J Invest Dermatol. 2004 Dec;123(6):1057-62.

Extra-domain-A fibronectin: a new marker of fibrosis in cutaneous graft-versus-host disease.

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Department of Haematology, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands.


One of the major complications that limit the success of allogeneic stem cell transplantation is graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). The major target organ in GVHD is the skin. Cutaneous GVHD can eventually lead to fibrosis of the skin. Fibronectin mediates a variety of cellular interactions with the extracellular matrix. The molecular and functional diversity of fibronectin (FN) arises from alternative splicing of pre-mRNA. In normal circumstances endothelial cells and fibroblasts synthesize FN without the ED-A domain. In tissue repair and pathologic circumstances such as fibrosis, the ED-A domain is expressed. We hypothesize that expression of ED-A FN is upregulated in patients with cutaneous GVHD. In frozen skin biopsies the expression of ED-A FN was measured at the protein level by immunohistochemistry and at the mRNA level by quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR). In normal control skin, immunohistochemistry showed slight deposits of ED-A FN just under the basal layer. The expression of ED-A FN significantly increased in acute cutaneous GVHD (p<0.05) and ED-A FN was strongly deposited in chronic cutaneous GVHD (p<0.001). Quantitative PCR also showed increased expression of ED-A FN mRNA in acute and chronic cutaneous GVHD compared with normal control skin (p=0.07 and 0.039, respectively). The expression of ED-A FN is increased in the skin of patients with cutaneous GVHD measured both with immunohistochemistry and qPCR. ED-A FN is a new marker of fibrosis in the skin of patients with cutaneous GVHD.

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