• 1 Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Medical Centre, Department of Medicine, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • 2 Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Medical Centre, Cell Therapy Centre, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • 3 Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Medical Centre, Department of Pediatric & Community Health, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • 4 Hospital Ampang, Department of Hematology, 68000 Ampang, Selangor, Malaysia
  • 5 Hospital Gleneagles, Department of Dermatopathology, 50450 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • 6 Universiti Putra Malaysia, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Department of Pathology
  • 7 Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Medical Centre, Cell Therapy Centre, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Malays J Pathol, 2021 Dec;43(3):361-373.
PMID: 34958057


INTRODUCTION: The epidemiology of cutaneous graft versus host disease (GVHD) in allogeneic peripheral blood stem cell transplantation (PBSCT) in Malaysia has not been described.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: We retrospectively analysed 691 allogeneic PBSCT patients between 2010-2017 in two centers.

RESULTS: The prevalence of cutaneous GVHD was 31.4% (217/691). No associations were detected with race, age or gender of donor and recipients. Cutaneous GVHD was associated with host cytomegalovirus (CMV) seropositivity (p<0.01), conditioning (p<0.01), GVHD prophylaxis (p=0.046) and survival (p<0.01). Majority developed the acute form (58.1%;126/217). Biopsies in 20.7% (45/217) showed 55.6% positivity for GVHD. Overall, involvement was non-severe. A majority demonstrated complete response (CR) to first-line corticosteroids (70.0%;152/217). Secondline therapies (extracorporeal phototherapy (ECP), psolaren ultraviolet A (PUVA), mycophenolate, tumour necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors, interleukins inhibitors, or CD20 monoclonal antibodies) were required in 65/217, with 38.5% CR. Second-line therapy was associated with gender (p=0.042), extra-cutaneous GVHD (p=0.021), treatment outcomes (p=0.026) and survival (p=0.048). Mortality in cutaneous GVHD was 24.0% with severe sepsis being the leading cause at Day 100 (7.8%) and 5-years (7.8%), and relapsed disease at 2-years (32.7%). In steroid refractoriness, severe GVHD caused 30.8% mortality. In cutaneous GVHD, survival at Day 100 was 95.4%; 80.2% at 2-years and 73.1% at 5-years. The median survival in cutaneous GVHD was significantly shorter at 55 months, compared to those without GVHD at 69 months (p=0.001).

CONCLUSION: Cutaneous involvement is the commonest clinical manifestation of GVHD. A larger national study is warranted to further analyse severity and outcome of multiorgan GVHD, and factors associated with steroid refractoriness.

* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.