Content » Vol 101, January

Clinical Report

Alteration in the Skin Microbiome in Cutaneous Graft Versus Host Disease

Ying Gu, Jing Sun, Kun Li, Xia Wu, Jianzhong Zhang
DOI: 10.2340/00015555-3613


Graft versus host disease (GVHD) is a common complication of haematopoietic stem cell transplantation. This study examined the cutaneous microbiome in relation to the pathogenesis of cutaneous GVHD. Bacterial swabs were taken from several sites on 12 patients with cutaneous GVHD. Microbiotas were characterized by sequencing 16S rRNA bacterial genes on the MiSeq platform. Microbiome diversity in patients with cutaneous GVHD was reduced compared with healthy controls. GVHD was related to an increased abundance of Firmicutes and a reduction in Actinobacteria, especially in lesions. Non-parametric multivariate analysis of variance revealed that the skin microbial community disorders in patients with GVHD correlated with several clinical features of cutaneous GVHD. This study indicates that changes in the cutaneous microbiota in lesions could play a key role in the pathogenesis of cutaneous GVHD. Further studies are needed to explore the mechanistic relevance of these microbial dynamics, which may provide new clues to therapeutic interventions.


Graft versus host disease (GVHD) is a severe adverse effect of haematopoietic stem cell transplantation and has a high rate of mortality. The skin is one of the major organs affected. This study represents the first comprehensive analysis of the skin microbiome in patients with GVHD. The results indicate that GVHD skin exhibits a less diverse skin microbiome compared with healthy skin, with a greater overall abundance of Staphylococcus. The abnormal skin microbiome in GVHD dysbiosis may help in our understanding of the pathogenesis of cutaneous GVHD.

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