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Xanthomatous Cells in Cutaneous Graft-Versus-Host Disease Biopsies

A Clue for the Diagnosis of Hepatic Graft-Versus-Host Disease

Gamé, Denise MD*; López, Lucia MD; Román, Concepción MD, PhD; Santos-Briz, Ángel MD, PhD

The American Journal of Dermatopathology: October 2018 - Volume 40 - Issue 10 - p 754–757
doi: 10.1097/DAD.0000000000001132
Brief Report

Abstract: Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) is one of the most common and serious complications of hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation that mainly affects the skin, gastrointestinal tract, and liver. Hepatic GVHD is associated with high morbidity and mortality, and its diagnosis can be especially challenging because of nonspecific clinical signs and symptoms. It must be suspected in patients with elevated liver enzymes and cholestasis, especially in those with a history of preceding skin rash and diarrhea. We describe 3 patients with cutaneous and hepatic GVHD that presented with severe hypercholesterolemia and hypertriglyceridemia, and no xanthomatous macular lesions, in which cutaneous biopsies revealed the presence of xanthomatous dermal histiocytes. We propose that the presence of these xanthomatous cells in skin biopsies from patients with cutaneous GVHD could be a dermatopathological clue for the diagnosis of hepatic GVHD.

*Department of Dermatology, Hospital Universitari Germans Trias i Pujol, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Badalona, Barcelona, Spain; and

Departments of Hematology, and

Pathology, Hospital Universitario de Salamanca, Salamanca, Spain.

Correspondence: Denise Gamé, MD, Department of Dermatology, Hospital Germans Trias i Pujol, Carretera de Canyet s/n 08916, Badalona, Barcelona, Spain (e-mail:

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

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