BACKGROUND Cytokine biomarkers have already been used to predict acute graft-versus-host disease (aGVHD) onset, nonrelapse mortality, and overall survival in human and mouse models, but the consistency of the consequences between patients and mice has not been evaluated. Furthermore, no study about any biomarker or biomarker panel for aGVHD grading or steroid sensitivity of aGVHD patients simultaneously has been reported.METHODS Here we established an aGVHD mouse model and explored the relation between aGVHD onset and variations of some cytokines. Based on the results and latest progress, we selected 16 cytokines and compared their serum variations in aGVHD patients and non-aGVHD patients after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Using protein microarray, we explored the relation between the cytokine levels and aGVHD-related events (onset, grading, and steroid sensitivity).RESULTS The increase of chemokine levels in murine aGVHD was very consistent with that of patients. We found obviously higher levels of IL-2, IL-4, Elafin, sST2, TLR4, and TNF-α, and lower levels of TGF-β in both aGVHD mouse models and aGVHD patients. In addition, patients with severe aGVHD showed increased IL-6, TLR4, TNF receptor 1 (TNFR1), and Elafin and decreased TGF-β. TLR4 and TNFR1 were significantly increased in steroid-refractory aGVHD patients compared with steroid-effective patients (P < 0.05).CONCLUSION A combination of TLR4, TNFR1, TGF-β, and Elafin could be a new 4-biomarker panel to assist aGVHD diagnosis, grading, and evaluation of steroid sensitivity for clinical aGVHD patients.TRIAL REGISTRATION ChiCTR1900022292 “Clinical Research of Umbilical Cord–Derived Mesenchymal Stromal Cells in the Prophylaxis of Graft-Versus-Host Disease After HLA-Haploidentical Stem-Cell Transplantation.”FUNDING National Key Research Program, National Natural Science Foundation of China, Chongqing Social Career and People’s Livelihood Security Science and Technology Innovation Project, Fundamental and Frontier Research Program of Chongqing, and Foundation of Xinqiao Hospital.
Xiaoping Li, Ting Chen, Qiangguo Gao, Wei Zhang, Yunshuo Xiao, Wen Zhu, Lingyu Zeng, Zhenyu Li, Shijie Yang, Rui Wang, Xiaoqi Wang, Yimei Feng, Xi Zhang