Stool Microbiota at Neutrophil Recovery Is Predictive for Severe Acute Graft vs Host Disease After Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation


Background: Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) is common after allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT). Risk for death from GVHD has been associated with low bacterial diversity in the stool microbiota early after transplant; however, the specific species associated with GVHD risk remain poorly defined. Methods: We prospectively collected serial weekly stool samples from 66 patients who underwent HCT, starting pre-transplantation and continuing weekly until 100 days post-transplant, a total of 694 observations in HCT recipients. We used 16S rRNA gene polymerase chain reaction with degenerate primers, followed by high-throughput sequencing to assess the relative abundance of sequence reads from bacterial taxa in stool samples over time. Results: The gut microbiota was highly dynamic in HCT recipients, with loss and appearance of taxa common on short time scales. As in prior studies, GVHD was associated with lower alpha diversity of the stool microbiota. At neutrophil recovery post-HCT, the presence of oral Actinobacteria and oral Firmicutes in stool was positively correlated with subsequent GVHD; Lachnospiraceae were negatively correlated. A gradient of bacterial species (difference of the sum of the relative abundance of positive correlates minus the sum of the relative abundance of negative correlates) was most predictive (receiver operator characteristic area under the curve of 0.83) of subsequent severe acute GVHD. Conclusions: The stool microbiota around the time of neutrophil recovery post-HCT is predictive of subsequent development of severe acute GVHD in this study.

Clinical Infectious Diseases: An Official Publication of the Infectious Diseases Society of America