Preservation of the fecal microbiome is associated with reduced severity of graft-versus-host disease

Blood. 2022 Dec 1;140(22):2385-2397. doi: 10.1182/blood.2021015352.


Following allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (allo-HCT), the gastrointestinal (GI) tract is frequently affected by acute graft-versus-host disease (aGVHD), the pathophysiology of which is associated with a dysbiotic microbiome. Since microbial composition varies along the length of the GI tract, the authors hypothesized that microbiome features correlate with the pattern of organ involvement after allo-HCT. We evaluated 266 allo-HCT recipients from whom 1303 stool samples were profiled by 16S ribosomal gene sequencing. Patients were classified according to which organs were affected by aGVHD. In the 20 days prior to disease onset, GVHD patients had lower abundances of members of the class Clostridia, lower counts of butyrate producers, and lower ratios of strict-to-facultative (S/F) anaerobic bacteria compared with allograft recipients who were free of GVHD. GI GVHD patients showed significant reduction in microbial diversity preonset. Patients with lower GI aGVHD had lower S/F anaerobe ratios compared with those with isolated upper GI aGVHD. In the 20 days after disease onset, dysbiosis was observed only in GVHD patients with GI involvement, particularly those with lower-tract disease. Importantly, Clostridial and butyrate-producer abundance as well as S/F anaerobe ratio were predictors of longer overall survival; higher abundance of butyrate producers and higher S/F anaerobe ratio were associated with decreased risk of GVHD-related death. These findings suggest that the intestinal microbiome can serve as a biomarker for outcomes of allo-HCT patients with GVHD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria
  • Butyrates
  • Dysbiosis / etiology
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Graft vs Host Disease* / microbiology
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation* / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Microbiota*


  • Butyrates