How we treat chronic graft-versus-host disease

Blood. 2015 Jan 22;125(4):606-15. doi: 10.1182/blood-2014-08-551994. Epub 2014 Nov 14.


Chronic graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) remains a common and potentially life-threatening complication of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HCT). The 2-year cumulative incidence of chronic GVHD requiring systemic treatment is ~30% to 40% by National Institutes of Health criteria. The risk of chronic GVHD is higher and the duration of treatment is longer after HCT with mobilized blood cells than with marrow cells. Clinical manifestations can impair activities of daily living and often linger for years. Hematology and oncology specialists who refer patients to centers for HCT are often subsequently involved in the management of chronic GVHD when patients return to their care after HCT. Treatment of these patients can be optimized under shared care arrangements that enable referring physicians to manage long-term administration of immunosuppressive medications and supportive care with guidance from transplant center experts. Keys to successful collaborative management include early recognition in making the diagnosis of chronic GVHD, comprehensive evaluation at the onset and periodically during the course of the disease, prompt institution of systemic and topical treatment, appropriate monitoring of the response, calibration of treatment intensity over time in order to avoid overtreatment or undertreatment, and the use of supportive care to prevent complications and disability.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Allografts
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Graft vs Host Disease / etiology
  • Graft vs Host Disease / pathology
  • Graft vs Host Disease / therapy*
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Mobilization*
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation*
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppression Therapy / methods*
  • Incidence
  • Male