Endothelial damage is aggravated in acute GvHD and could predict its development
The aim of the present study was to explore whether there is enhanced endothelial dysfunction in patients developing acute GvHD (aGvHD) after allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (allo-HCT) and to identify biomarkers with predictive and/or diagnostic value. In in vitro experiments, endothelial cells (ECs) were exposed to serum from patients with (aGvHD, n = 31) and without (NoGvHD, n = 13) aGvHD, to evaluate changes in surface adhesion receptors, the reactivity of the extracellular matrix by measuring the presence of Von Willebrand factor (VWF) and platelet adhesion, and the activation of intracellular signaling proteins. Plasma levels of VWF, ADAMTS-13, TNF receptor 1 (TNFR1), soluble vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 and soluble intercellular adhesion molecule 1 were also measured. In vitro results showed a more marked proinflammatory and prothrombotic phenotype in ECs in association with aGvHD. Regarding circulating biomarkers, levels of VWF and TNFR1 above an optimal cutoff score, taken independently or combined, at day 7 after allo-HCT, would be able to positively predict that around 90% of patients will develop aGvHD. Our results demonstrate that endothelial damage is aggravated in those allo-HCT recipients developing aGvHD, and that VWF and TNFR1 are promising predictive aGvHD biomarkers. These findings could contribute to improve the understanding of the pathophysiology of aGvHD.