Research from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center indicates that serum albumin measurements may be able to be used to help predict the severity of acute graft-versus-host-disease (GVHD) in stem-cell transplant patients who develop the complication. Until now such predictions have been possible only via expensive biomarker tests.
In the study in the journal Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation (2011;17:1594-1601), led by Andrew Rezvani, MD, Research Associate in Fred Hutchinson's Clinical Research Division, in 401 transplant patients who had developed acute GVHD, serum albumin concentrations were lower both before and after being given treatment.
Although only about 5% to 10% of the 50% to 60% of transplant patients with acute GVHD requiring treatment develop the most severe form of the disease, mortality rates from the complication are approximately 50% to 80% for those patients, Rezvani noted in an email interview.
The study found that for patients who showed at least a 0.5 mg/dL decrease in serum albumin, 73% developed severe acute GVHD. Rezvani said that although additional testing is still needed before such tests can be put to clinical use, this early research is important because it suggests that serum albumin performs comparably to more sophisticated, expensive biomarkers in terms of accuracy and predictive power.