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Int J Hematol. 2015 May;101(5):428-37. doi: 10.1007/s12185-015-1781-5. Epub 2015 Mar 27.

Intestinal microbiota-related effects on graft-versus-host disease.

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Department of Immunology, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, 10065, USA,


Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo-HSCT) is an increasingly important treatment for conditions including hematopoietic malignancies and inherited hematopoietic disorders, and is considered to be the most effective form of tumor immunotherapy available to date. However, graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) remains a major source of morbidity and mortality following allo-HSCT, and understanding the mechanisms of GVHD has been highlighted as a key research priority. During development of GVHD, activation of various immune cells, especially donor T cells, leads to damage of target organs including skin, liver, hematopoietic system, and of particular clinical importance, gut. In addition to histocompatibility complex differences between the donor and recipient, pretransplant conditioning with chemotherapy and irradiation also contributes to GVHD by damaging the gut, resulting in systemic exposure to microbial products normally confined to the intestinal lumen. The intestinal microbiota is a modulator of gastrointestinal immune homeostasis. It also promotes the maintenance of epithelial cells. Recent reports provide growing evidence of the impact of intestinal microbiota on GVHD pathophysiology. This review summarizes current knowledge of changes and effects of intestinal microbiota in the setting of allo-HSCT. We will also discuss potential future strategies of intestinal microbiota manipulation that might be advantageous in decreasing allo-HSCT-related morbidity and mortality.

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