BACKGROUND. No laboratory test can predict the risk of nonrelapse mortality (NRM) or severe graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) after hematopoietic cellular transplantation (HCT) prior to the onset of GVHD symptoms.

METHODS. Patient blood samples on day 7 after HCT were obtained from a multicenter set of 1,287 patients, and 620 samples were assigned to a training set. We measured the concentrations of 4 GVHD biomarkers (ST2, REG3α, TNFR1, and IL-2Rα) and used them to model 6-month NRM using rigorous cross-validation strategies to identify the best algorithm that defined 2 distinct risk groups. We then applied the final algorithm in an independent test set (n = 309) and validation set (n = 358).

RESULTS. A 2-biomarker model using ST2 and REG3α concentrations identified patients with a cumulative incidence of 6-month NRM of 28% in the high-risk group and 7% in the low-risk group (P < 0.001). The algorithm performed equally well in the test set (33% vs. 7%, P < 0.001) and the multicenter validation set (26% vs. 10%, P < 0.001). Sixteen percent, 17%, and 20% of patients were at high risk in the training, test, and validation sets, respectively. GVHD-related mortality was greater in high-risk patients (18% vs. 4%, P < 0.001), as was severe gastrointestinal GVHD (17% vs. 8%, P < 0.001). The same algorithm can be successfully adapted to define 3 distinct risk groups at GVHD onset.

CONCLUSION. A biomarker algorithm based on a blood sample taken 7 days after HCT can consistently identify a group of patients at high risk for lethal GVHD and NRM.

FUNDING. The National Cancer Institute, American Cancer Society, and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.


Matthew J. Hartwell, Umut Özbek, Ernst Holler, Anne S. Renteria, Hannah Major-Monfried, Pavan Reddy, Mina Aziz, William J. Hogan, Francis Ayuk, Yvonne A. Efebera, Elizabeth O. Hexner, Udomsak Bunworasate, Muna Qayed, Rainer Ordemann, Matthias Wölfl, Stephan Mielke, Attaphol Pawarode, Yi-Bin Chen, Steven Devine, Andrew C. Harris, Madan Jagasia, Carrie L. Kitko, Mark R. Litzow, Nicolaus Kröger, Franco Locatelli, George Morales, Ryotaro Nakamura, Ran Reshef, Wolf Rösler, Daniela Weber, Kitsada Wudhikarn, Gregory A. Yanik, John E. Levine, James L.M. Ferrara


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