Elevated interleukin (IL)-18 levels during acute graft-versus-host disease after allogeneic bone marrow transplantation

Br J Haematol. 2000 Jun;109(3):652-7. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2141.2000.02095.x.


Acute graft-versus-host disease (aGVHD) after allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (BMT) is mediated by grafted T lymphocytes after their polarization into type 1 T cells. Interleukin (IL)-18, a novel immunoregulatory cytokine, strongly stimulates type 1 T cells, therefore we postulated that IL-18 may be involved in the pathogenesis of aGVHD. Using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), we serially measured serum levels of IL-18 in 37 patients with haematological malignancy before and after allogeneic BMT. Patients with aGVHD had high levels of IL-18 that strongly correlated with the severity of aGVHD. We also found that they showed reduced serum levels of IL-18 after appropriate treatment or at a state of resolution. IL-18 levels were not affected by the pretransplant regimen, engraftment or bacterial infection. Compared with circulating interferon (IFN)-gamma or IL-12 levels, serum levels of IL-18 showed a more sensitive and specific correlation with the disease status of aGVHD. These findings suggest that IL-18 may play important roles in the pathogenesis of aGVHD and that measurement of serum IL-18 levels can be useful indicator of aGVHD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Bone Marrow Transplantation*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Graft vs Host Disease / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma / blood
  • Interleukin-12 / blood
  • Interleukin-18 / blood*
  • Leukemia / immunology*
  • Leukemia / therapy
  • Leukemia, Myelogenous, Chronic, BCR-ABL Positive / immunology
  • Leukemia, Myelogenous, Chronic, BCR-ABL Positive / therapy
  • Leukemia, Myeloid / immunology
  • Leukemia, Myeloid / therapy
  • Male
  • Myelodysplastic Syndromes / immunology
  • Myelodysplastic Syndromes / therapy
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / immunology
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / therapy
  • Regression Analysis
  • Transplantation, Homologous


  • Biomarkers
  • Interleukin-18
  • Interleukin-12
  • Interferon-gamma