Gut Bacteria Could Reduce GVHD in Patients Undergoing Bone Marrow Transplantation

Share this content:
Gut Bacteria Could Reduce GVHD in Patients Undergoing Bone Marrow Transplantation
Gut Bacteria Could Reduce GVHD in Patients Undergoing Bone Marrow Transplantation

A short-chain fatty acid made by bacteria in the gut could play an important role in graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) after allogeneic bone marrow transplant in mice. In human patients who receive bone marrow transplants, GVHD can cause severe gut damage from donor cells attacking host cells.1

This study, published in Nature Immunology, first examined chemicals made by gut bacteria after the mice received allogeneic bone marrow transplants. Results showed a reduction in the bacterial chemical butyrate in the cells lining the intestine. This butyrate reduction resulted in decreased histone acetylation.

Administering additional butyrate restored histone acetylation. It also improved junction integrity in the spaces between intestine cells, decreased intestinal cell death, and improved GVHD.

Next, researchers administered 17 strains of high butyrate-producing Clostridia, a type of bacteria, to change the butyrate production of bacteria in the guts of these mice. This also resulted in decreased GVHD. These results suggest that decreased butyrate levels could increase GVHD, while restoring butyrate levels could ameliorate the adverse effect.

"Our findings suggest we can prevent graft-versus-host disease by bolstering the amount of the microbiome-derived metabolite butyrate," explained study lead author Pavan Reddy, MD, the Moshe Talpaz Professor of Translational Pathology and interim division chief of hematology/oncology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

"If the GI gut lining can remain healthy and strong, it can resist the attack by the donor immune system and hopefully prevent graft vs. host disease."

Bone marrow transplants can be important components for treating some types of leukemia and lymphoma.

"This is a whole new approach. The idea is to make the host cells stronger, to be able to withstand the assault of the donor immune cells while reducing the risk of infection or leukemia relapse," said Reddy.


1. Mathewson ND, Jenq R, Mathew AV, et al. Gut microbiome-derived metabolites modulate intestinal epithelial cell damage and mitigate graft-versus-host disease [published online ahead of print March 21, 2016]. Nat Immunol. doi:10.1038/ni.3400.

You must be a registered member of ONA to post a comment.

Sign Up for Free e-newsletters

Regimen and Drug Listings


Bone Cancer Regimens Drugs
Brain Cancer Regimens Drugs
Breast Cancer Regimens Drugs
Endocrine Cancer Regimens Drugs
Gastrointestinal Cancer Regimens Drugs
Genitourinary Cancer Regimens Drugs
Gynecologic Cancer Regimens Drugs
Head and Neck Cancer Regimens Drugs
Hematologic Cancer Regimens Drugs
Lung Cancer Regimens Drugs
Other Cancers Regimens
Rare Cancers Regimens
Skin Cancer Regimens Drugs