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Graft-versus-Host-Disease

GraftHealthy blood forming stem cells used to replace a patient's diseased blood forming stem cells-versus-Host Disease, or GVHDGraft-versus-Host-Disease. A disease caused when the donor's stem cells (the graft) attack the normal tissue of the transplant patient. Also called GVHD., is a common complication following a transplant using donor cells. GVHD is not an issue for patients who had an autologousTaken from an individual's own tissues, cells, or DNA. transplant - a transplant using their own stem cells.

GVHD affects between 20 to 50 percent of patients who were transplanted with cells from a related donor. The percentage is higher in patients who were transplanted with cells from an unrelated donor.

GVHD is caused by T-cells which are a type of white blood cell. T-cells are programmed to identify what belongs in a particular person's body and what does not. When they detect something foreign in the body, they signal the immune system to destroy it. 

When donor cells are transplanted into a patient, they contain the donor's T-cells. The donor T-cells perceive the patient's organs and tissues as foreign material and signal the immune system to attack them.

There is evidence that a little bit of GVHD is actually good. Patients who develop a mild case of GVHD relapseRecurrence of the disease following treatment. less often than those who do not develop GVHD. This is called the graft-versus-leukemia or graft-versus-tumorUncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the organ or tissue. effect.

Because GVHD is relatively common, your medical team will closely monitor you for signs of this complication. However, symptoms of GVHD sometimes don't appear until you return home from the transplant center. Understanding some important information about GVHD will help you and your primary care doctor detect early symptoms and respond to them.

There are two types of GVHD: acuteHaving severe symptoms and a short duration. GVHD and chronicPersisting for a long time. GVHD. Patients may develop one, both or neither. Acute and chronic GVHD differ in their symptoms, time of onset and treatment. Read the next sections for more information about each form of this disease. 

Last updated on 08/30/2010
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