Levy RB, Mousa HM, Lightbourn CO, Shiuey EJ, Latoni D, Duffort S, Flynn R, Du J, Barreras H, Zaiken M, Paz K, Blazar BR, Perez VL. 2021. Analyses and Correlation of Pathologic and Ocular Cutaneous Changes in Murine Graft versus Host Disease. International journal of molecular sciences. 23(1). Pubmed: 35008621 DOI:10.3390/ijms23010184


Graft versus host disease (GVHD) is initiated by donor allo-reactive T cells activated against recipient antigens. Chronic GVHD (cGVHD) is characterized by immune responses that may resemble autoimmune features present in the scleroderma and Sjogren's syndrome. Unfortunately, ocular involvement occurs in approximately 60-90% of patients with cGVHD following allo-hematopoietic stem cell transplants (aHSCT). Ocular GVHD (oGVHD) may affect vision due to ocular adnexa damage leading to dry eye and keratopathy. Several other compartments including the skin are major targets of GVHD effector pathways. Using mouse aHSCT models, the objective was to characterize cGVHD associated alterations in the eye and skin to assess for correlations between these two organs. The examination of multiple models of MHC-matched and MHC-mismatched aHSCT identified a correlation between ocular and cutaneous involvement accompanying cGVHD. Studies detected a "positive" correlation, i.e., when cGVHD-induced ocular alterations were observed, cutaneous compartment alterations were also observed. When no or minimal ocular signs were detected, no or minimal skin changes were observed. In total, these findings suggest underlying cGVHD-inducing pathological immune mechanisms may be shared between the eye and skin. Based on the present observations, we posit that when skin involvement is present in aHSCT patients with cGVHD, the evaluation of the ocular surface by an ophthalmologist could potentially be of value.

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Ryan Flynn’s laboratory is focused on the exploration and discovery of how biopolymers like RNA and glycans work together to control cellular processes in the context of human disease.

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