Dendritic cell chimerism in oral mucosa of transplanted patients affected by graft-versus-host disease

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Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) is one of the main complications after haematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Clinical features of GVHD include either an acute (aGVHD) or a chronic (cGVHD) condition that affects locations such as the oral mucosa. While the involvement of the host's dendritic cells (DCs) has been demonstrated in aGVHD, the origin (donor/host) and mechanisms underlying oral cGVHD have not been completely elucidated. In this study, we intend to determine the origin of DCs present in mucosal tissue biopsies from the oral cavity of transplanted patients affected by cGVHD.


We purified DCs, from oral biopsies of three patients with cGVHD, through immunobeads and subsequently performed DNA extraction. The origin of the obtained DCs was determined by PCR amplification of 13 informative short tandem repeat (STR) alleles. We also characterised the DCs phenotype and the inflammatory infiltrate from biopsies of two patients by immunohistochemistry.


Clinical and histological features of the biopsies were concordant with oral cGVHD. We identified CD11c-, CD207- and CD1a-positive cells in the epithelium and beneath the basal layer. Purification of DCs from the mucosa of patients affected by post-transplantation cGVHD was >95%. PCR-STR data analysis of DCs DNA showed that 100% of analysed cells were of donor origin in all of the evaluated patients.


Our results demonstrate that resident DCs isolated from the oral tissue of allotransplanted patients affected by cGVHD are originated from the donor. Further research will clarify the role of DCs in the development and/or severity of oral cGVHD.

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