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Graft Versus Host Disease (GVHD)

Understand GVHD better


Updated December 03, 2008

Graft versus host disease (GVHD) is a common side effect of allogeneic bone marrow or stem cell transplants. Although the chances of developing GVHD vary, 40% to 80% of transplant recipients get GVHD in some form or the other. GVHD is often mild, but occasionally it can be severe enough to be life threatening. This article will take you through the basics of this important and potentially distressing side effect of a transplant.

Why does GVHD occur?

The marrow or the stem cells that are transplanted into the patient contain blood cells of the donor. One type of blood cell, called the T-cell, launches an attack on the tissues of the transplant recipient. Why does it do that? In this section, get a basic but detailed introduction to the development of GVHD.

What are the symptoms of GVHD?

GVHD may manifest within a few weeks of the transplant, or occasionally months later. When GVHD manifests within the first 100 days of treatment, it is called 'acute GVHD.' When it starts later, it is called 'chronic GVHD.' GVHD can affect multiple organs of the body. Patterns of affection may differ in the acute and chronic forms of this condition. Get a comprehensive overview of the symptoms of GVHD here.

How can we prevent or reduce the severity of GVHD?

GVHD is a condition that can be extremely distressing. The success or failure of a transplant depends on preventing or minimizing the ill effects of this condition. This can be attempted in several ways. Find out the measures that can be taken to reduce the burden of GVHD.

How is GVHD treated?

GVHD is not easy to treat. It involves the assessment and modification of drugs that are routinely given for preventing GVHD. It also involves adding new drugs, especially steroids, to stop the damage to the organs of the transplant recipient. Occasionally, when the steroids is not enough to effectively control the condition, other drugs may need to be added. In this section, get an overview of treatment options for GVHD.

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