Pulmonary Clinicopathological Correlation after Allogeneic Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation: An Autopsy Series

Biol Blood Marrow Transplant. 2017 Oct;23(10):1767-1772. doi: 10.1016/j.bbmt.2017.06.009. Epub 2017 Jun 28.


Pulmonary complications are a significant cause of morbidity, mortality, and resource utilization after hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). The objective of this study was to compare antemortem clinical suspicion of pulmonary complications and postmortem findings in a modern HSCT cohort. All patients who underwent allogeneic HSCT at our institution (n = 1854) between January 1, 2000 and June 30, 2010 were reviewed and patients who died of any cause greater than 1 year after HSCT and had an unrestricted autopsy available for analysis were included. Presence of pulmonary graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) was assessed by a pathologist blinded to the autopsy report, as previously described by Yousem (1995). A total of 35 (1.9%) patients had autopsies available for review. Airway disease, vascular disease, and interstitial disease were all clinically under-recognized compared with the pathological findings on autopsy. Varying degrees of pathological changes were detected, including 10 (28.6%) patients having bronchiolitis obliterans (BO) and 12 (34.3%) patients having pulmonary veno-occlusive disease (PVOD). Pulmonary manifestations of chronic GVHD, particularly BO and PVOD, were clinically under-recognized in our cohort. Our results suggest that PVOD, which has traditionally been considered a rare complication, may be clinically and histologically under-recognized.

Keywords: Autopsy; Graft-versus-host disease; Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Autopsy*
  • Graft vs Host Disease / pathology
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases / etiology*
  • Lung Diseases / mortality
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Veno-Occlusive Disease
  • Transplantation, Homologous