Serum cytokine levels and acute graft-versus-host disease after HLA-identical hematopoietic stem cell transplantation

Exp Hematol. 2003 Nov;31(11):1044-50. doi: 10.1016/j.exphem.2003.08.005.


Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate whether the serum levels of soluble interleukin-2R (sIL-2R), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma), IL-6, IL-10, and transforming growth factor-beta(1) (TGF-beta(1)) were associated with the development of acute graft-vs-host disease (aGVHD).

Patients and methods: Serum cytokine levels were sequentially measured by sandwich enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in 13 patients who had received full-match allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT).

Results: Serum sIL-2R and IL-10 levels from the 1st to the 15th week post transplantation were significantly higher in the group that developed aGVHD than in the group without aGVHD. sIL-2R levels increased in direct correlation to engraftment and at onset of aGVHD, whereas IL-10 levels increased transiently following HSCT. The mean TNF-alpha concentration in the first weeks after transplantation was augmented in the group that developed aGVHD. Furthermore, a decrease in TGF-beta(1) levels after engraftment was significantly associated with aGVHD. No correlation was found between aGVHD and the other cytokines.

Conclusions: These results support the idea that a balance between cytokines derived from type 1 and type 2 T-helper cells may be important in the development and control of aGVHD. Although sIL-2R, TNF-alpha, IL-10, and TGF-beta(1) levels have been correlated with aGVHD, sIL-2R levels at engraftment may provide a better parameter for early detection of aGVHD after allogeneic HSCT.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Cytokines / blood*
  • Female
  • Graft vs Host Disease / etiology*
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation*
  • Histocompatibility Testing*
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma / blood
  • Interleukin-10 / blood
  • Interleukin-6 / blood
  • Male
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / blood
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1
  • Transplantation Conditioning
  • Transplantation, Homologous
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / analysis


  • Cytokines
  • Interleukin-6
  • TGFB1 protein, human
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Interleukin-10
  • Interferon-gamma