What is graft versus host disease? | Aplastic Anemia and MDS International Foundation

What is graft versus host disease?

Graft versus host disease (GVHD) is a common complication of bone marrow/stem cell transplantation. It is caused when the donor's immune cells (the "graft"), now in the patient, react to the patient's body (the "host") as if it was foreign.

Typically, GVHD attacks the skin (red rash, itching, yellowing), liver (elevated liver test results), yellowing of the eyes, abdomen and gastrointestinal tract (diarrhea, nausea, cramping). GVHD can range from mild to very severe. In some cases, GVHD can be prevented or treated with immunosuppressive drug therapy. Symptoms should be reported to your doctor immediately.