Circulating angiogenic factors (AF) reflect tissue healing capacity, although some AF can also contribute to inflammation and are indicative of endothelial dysfunction. The AF milieu in acute graft-versus-host disease (aGVHD) has not been broadly characterized. We hypothesized that patients with abundant AF involved in repair/regeneration versus those mediating damage/inflammation would have improved outcomes. Circulating AF known predominantly for repair/regeneration (epidermal growth factor [EGF], fibroblast growth factor-1 and -2, heparin binding-EGF-like growth factor, and vascular endothelial growth factor-A [VEGF-A], -C, and -D) and for damage/inflammation (angiopoietin-2, endothelin-1, soluble endoglin [sEng], follistatin [FS], leptin, and placental growth factor [PlGF]) were measured in a discovery set of hematopoietic cell recipients with grade III and IV aGVHD and compared with controls, then validated in 2 aGVHD cohorts enrolled in Blood and Marrow Transplant Clinical Trials Network (BMT CTN) trials 0302 (n = 105, serum) and 0802 (n = 158, plasma) versus controls without aGVHD (n = 53, serum). Levels of EGF and VEGF-A were lower than in controls at the onset of aGVHD in both trials and higher with complete response to first-line aGVHD therapy in CTN 0802. FS and PlGF were elevated in aGVHD measured in either serum or plasma. At day 28 after initial aGVHD therapy, elevated FS was an independent negative prognostic factor for survival in both cohorts (hazard ratio, 9.3 in CTN 0302; 2.8 in CTN 0802). These data suggest that circulating AF are associated with clinical outcomes after aGVHD and, thus, may contribute to both pathogenesis and recovery.
- Acute graft-versus-host disease
- Allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation
- Angiogenic factor
- Epidermal growth factor
- Placental growth factor
- Vascular endothelial growth factor