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Graft Versus Host Disease

Considerations in Apoptotic Pattern of Injury



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September 2013

Beyond Hot Topic is an opportunity for viewers to submit questions to the Hot Topic presenter. The opportunity to submit questions for this topic is now closed.

The following questions were submitted by viewers and answered by the presenter, Dora M. Lam-Himlin, MD, Senior Associate Consultant, Division of Anatomic Pathology and Assistant Professor of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at Mayo Clinic in Arizona.

Questions are presented as submitted (unedited).

  1. Is GVHD caused by donor cells destroying recipient tissue? I was a bit unclear about what destroyed what.

    This is correct – donor cells attack the recipient tissue in GVHD.

    After bone marrow transplantation, T cells present in the graft perceive the host tissues as antigenically foreign and attack the tissues of the recipient. The T cells produce an excess of cytokines, including tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) and interferon-gamma (INF-γ), which results in destruction of host cells.


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