Over the past decades, visceral transplantation has become the standard of care for patients with irreversible intestinal failure who suffer complications of total parenteral nutrition (TPN). Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) after solid organ transplantation is a rare but often fatal complication with high mortality. GVHD after intestinal transplantation, given the large lymphoid content of the graft, is more frequent compared with other solid organs. It is a complex condition that may have varied clinical presentations. The therapy of GVHD is multifactorial and has evolved with visceral transplantation.
In recent large series of intestinal transplantation performed in centers around the world, GVHD remained an important cause of death (40–70%). Advances in immunology and current treatment options come from the hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation (HSCT) experience given the high prevalence of GVHD in that patient population. Therapeutic options for GVHD are based on disease classification, overall grading, organs involved, and associated symptoms.
Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) is a serious complication that can occur after solid organ and allogenic HSCT. Intestinal or multivisceral transplantation have the highest incidence of GVHD among all solid organ transplants with very high mortality rates. Increased risk of GVHD is present after multivisceral and liver-included transplants compared with isolated intestinal transplant. Visceral transplantation is the all-encompassing term used for transplant that includes small bowel. It includes isolated small bowel transplant, small bowel/pancreas transplant, liver/small bowel/ pancreas transplant, stomach/pancreas/small bowel (modified multivisceral transplant), and stomach/liver/pancreas/small bowel (multivisceral). Each of these may or may not include the colon as part of the allograft. Steroids remain the first line of treatment along with modulation of the primary immunosuppression. Steroid-refractory patients remain a challenge and, to date, no consensus has been achieved for a single agent second-line therapy. Successful outcome depends on early diagnosis and prompt treatment.
Division of Pediatric Transplantation, Department of Surgery, Hillman Center for Pediatric Transplantation, UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, Thomas E. Starzl Transplant Institute, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, USA
Correspondence to Ajai Khanna, MD, PhD, Professor of Surgery, Division of Pediatric Transplantation, Department of Surgery, Hillman Center for Pediatric Transplantation, UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, Thomas E. Starzl Transplant Institute, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, 4401 Penn Avenue, FP 6th Floor, 6129, Pittsburgh, PA 15224, USA. Tel: +1 412 692 7552; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org