Serum cytokine levels in bone marrow transplantation: synergistic interaction of interleukin-6, interferon-gamma, and tumor necrosis factor-alpha in graft-versus-host disease

Bone Marrow Transplant. 1994 Jun;13(6):745-51.


In patients with acute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), IL-6 gradually increased > 14 days before clinical onset of acute GVHD and decreased when acute GVHD disappeared. Interferon-gamma (IFN gamma) levels increased < 14 days before clinical acute GVHD and decreased at the disappearance of acute GVHD. Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF alpha) levels increased almost simultaneously with the onset of acute GVHD and also decreased when it disappeared. However, these results do not necessarily mean that the increased levels of IL-6, IFN gamma and TNF alpha induced acute GVHD; they merely show that acute GVHD is observed more frequently in patients with increased IL-6, IFN gamma and TNF alpha levels than in those with normal levels. Although increased IL-6 levels were also observed in patients without acute GVHD, concomitant increase of IFN gamma and TNF alpha was not detected in such cases, showing that IL-6 can be increased by even graft-versus-host reaction (GVHR) which may not develop into clinical acute GVHD. Taken together, acute GVHD appeared to be induced by synergistic interaction of IL-6, IFN gamma and TNF alpha, consistent with a cytokine cascade. A similar interaction of IL-6 and TNF alpha was also observed in chronic GVHD. Although IFN gamma levels were slightly increased in chronic GVHD and sometimes aggravated the disease status, IL-6 and TNF alpha appeared to be more closely involved in the induction of chronic GVHD. In autologous BMT, increased cytokine levels were not observed unless IL-2 was administered.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Bone Marrow Transplantation*
  • Cytokines / blood*
  • Drug Synergism
  • Female
  • Graft vs Host Disease / blood*
  • Graft vs Host Disease / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma / blood*
  • Interferon-gamma / physiology
  • Interleukin-6 / blood*
  • Interleukin-6 / physiology
  • Male
  • Transplantation, Autologous
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / analysis*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / physiology


  • Cytokines
  • Interleukin-6
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Interferon-gamma