What to Know About Graft-versus-host Disease (GVHD)

Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) is a condition that can occur after a stem cell or bone marrow transplant. It happens when the donated cells attack the recipient’s body. GVHD is a serious complication and affects many people who undergo these types of transplants. In the United States, thousands of patients face this condition each year, making it a significant concern in transplant medicine. This blog post will provide an overview of GVHD, offering essential information to help you understand this complex and impactful medical issue.

graft host disease

Causes & Types of Graft Host Disease

  • Acute GVHD happens within the first 100 days after a stem cell or bone marrow transplant. It occurs when the new immune cells from the donor attack the recipient’s body soon after the transplant.
  • Chronic GVHD can develop anytime from 100 days to several years after the transplant. It can affect many organs, including the skin, liver, eyes, mouth, lungs, and joints, and may present with symptoms similar to autoimmune disorders.

Both types are caused by the new immune cells seeing the recipient’s body as foreign and launching an attack. Understanding these types helps in managing the condition effectively.

Risk Factors of GVHD

The risk of developing Graft-versus-host Disease (GVHD) depends on several factors. One important factor is the genetic match between the donor and the recipient; the closer the match, the lower the risk. The age of both the donor and recipient can also influence the risk, with older age often increasing it. Additionally, the type of transplant, such as a bone marrow or stem cell transplant, can affect the likelihood of GVHD occurring. The health of the recipient before the transplant and the intensity of the transplant procedure itself are also crucial factors. How to recognize Graft Host Disease? You’ll learn all about it on the next page.

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