Therapeutic targets and emerging treatment options in gastrointestinal acute graft-versus-host disease

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4 Scopus citations


Introduction: Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) continues to be the major lethal complication of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HCT) but the standard of care, high dose steroids, has not changed in 40 years. Approximately 50% of GVHD patients will develop steroid refractory disease, typically involving the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, which has a very poor prognosis. Newly developed GVHD biomarker-based risk scores provide the first opportunity to treat patients at the onset of symptoms according to risk of steroid failure. Furthermore, improvements in our understanding of the pathobiology of GVHD, its different signaling pathways, involved cytokines, and the role of post-translational and epigenetic modifications, has identified new therapeutic targets for clinical trials.Areas covered: This manuscript summarizes the pathophysiology, diagnosis, staging, current and new targeted therapies for GVHD, with an emphasis on GI GVHD. A literature search on PubMed was undertaken and the most relevant references included.Expert Opinion: The standard treatment for GVHD, high dose steroids, offers less than optimal outcomes as well as significant toxicities. Better treatments, especially for GI GVHD, are needed to reduce non-relapse mortality after allogeneic HCT. The identification of high risk patients through a biomarker-defined scoring system offers a personalized approach to a disease that still requires significant research attention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)469-484
Number of pages16
JournalExpert Opinion on Orphan Drugs
Issue number5
StatePublished - 3 May 2016


  • Biomarkers
  • GVHD
  • Paneth cells
  • graft-versus-host disease
  • microbiome
  • steroid-refractory GVHD
  • treatment


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