Identifying Serum Proteins Associated With Severe GVHD

By Patrick Daly - Last Updated: November 23, 2022

Allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) remains one of the only effective therapies for several hematological malignancies; however, severe graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) remains a major driver of nonrelapse mortality, and predictive biomarkers are needed to improve HCT outcomes.

Researchers examined serum protein profiles of patients who had received HCT to attempt to identify predictive biomarkers for severe acute GVHD (aGVHD).

In their study, published in BMC Cancer, they reported that higher soluble vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (sVCAM-1) at baseline and 2 weeks following HCT may be a significant prognostic factor for GVHD.

Soluble Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule-1 Levels Predict GVHD

The retrospective study included 30 patients with a median age of 53.5 (range, 19-69 years) who underwent HCT at the authors’ center between 2017 and 2019. Serum samples were collected 7 days prior to, the day of, and 7 and 14 days following HCT.

Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays were used to measure levels of plasma beta2-microglobulin (β2-MG), sVCAM-1, platelet factor 4, and tumor necrosis factor superfamily member 14 (TNFSF-14).

Reportedly, aGVHD of any grade occurred in 21 (70%) patients, and grade II-IV aGVHD occurred in 17 (56.7%) patients.Of note, β2-MG (P=.028) and sVCAM-1 (P<.001) were significantly higher 14 days after HCT compared with levels 7 days prior to HCT.

Patients with grade II-IV severe aGVHD had significantly higher sVCAM-1 levels both 7 days prior to HCT and 14 days after compared with other groups with grade I or no aGVHD (P=.028 and P=.035, respectively).

Though the authors acknowledged further studies are needed to confirm their findings, they suggested that “a higher sVCAM-1 level at preconditioning baseline and at day+ 14 after HCT is a potentially useful biomarker to predict the development of severe aGVHD in the early period of HCT.”

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