The Gut Microbiota and Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation: Challenges and Potentials

J Innate Immun. 2019;11(5):405-415. doi: 10.1159/000492943. Epub 2018 Oct 4.


The human gut microbiota gained tremendous importance in the last decade as next-generation technologies of sequencing and multiomics analyses linked the role of the microbial communities to host physiology and pathophysiology. A growing number of human pathologies and diseases are linked to the gut microbiota. One of the main mechanisms by which the microbiota influences the host is through its interactions with the host immune system. These interactions with both innate and adaptive host intestinal and extraintestinal immunity, although usually commensalistic even mutualistic with the host, in some cases lead to serious health effects. In the case of allogenic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo-HSCT), the disruption of the intestinal microbiota diversity is associated with acute graft-versus-host disease (GvHD). Causing inflammation of the liver, skin, lungs, and the intestine, GvHD occurs in 40-50% of patients undergoing allo-HSCT and results in significant posttransplantation mortality. In this review, we highlight the impact of the gut microbiota on the host immunity in GvHD and the potential of microbiota in alleviation or even prevention of GvHD.

Keywords: Graft-versus-host disease; Gut microbiota; Immune system; Microbiome; Stem cell transplantation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biological Therapy
  • Biomarkers
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome* / genetics
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome* / immunology
  • Graft vs Host Disease / diagnosis*
  • Graft vs Host Disease / immunology
  • Graft vs Host Disease / therapy*
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation* / adverse effects
  • Host Microbial Interactions / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunity
  • Intestines / immunology
  • Intestines / microbiology
  • Transplantation, Homologous


  • Biomarkers