Diagnosis of transfusion-associated graft-vs.-host disease: the importance of short tandem repeat analysis.
Sage D., Stanworth S., Turner D., Navarrete C.
Transfusion-associated graft-vs.-host disease (TA-GvHD) can occur following transfusion of blood products containing immunocompetent lymphocytes, usually from HLA homozygous donors, into immunocompromised patients sharing one HLA haplotype with the donor. The diagnosis of TA-GvHD may be delayed due to the initial nonspecific clinical features involved. Investigations to detect the presence of donor-derived cells in the blood and/or affected tissues of the recipient are essential to confirm the diagnosis. We report the investigation of suspected TA-GvHD using short tandem repeat (STR) analysis, to detect the presence of donor cells (chimerism), in an immunocompetent patient admitted for coronary artery bypass surgery. Peripheral blood and skin biopsies (from affected and nonaffected sites) from the patient and peripheral blood samples from the implicated donors were taken for HLA typing and STR analysis. STR analysis revealed the presence of donor material in the patient's peripheral blood sample and in DNA extracted from the affected skin biopsy but not the unaffected biopsy, suggesting lymphocytes from this donor were responsible for the development of TA-GvHD. Furthermore, HLA typing results supported the diagnosis of TA-GvHD. These data demonstrate the use of STR and HLA analysis as effective tools in the diagnosis of TA-GvHD.