Pedraza A, Salas MQ, Rodríguez-Lobato LG, Escribano-Serrat S, Suárez-Lledo M, Martínez-Cebrian N, Solano MT, Arcarons J, Rosiñol L, Gutiérrez-García G, Fernández-Avilés F, Moreno-Castaño AB, Molina P, Pino M, Carreras E, Díaz-Ricart M, Rovira M, Palomo M, Martínez C.


Plasma biomarkers of endothelial dysfunction have been postulated for the diagnosis and prognosis of acute graft-versus-host disease (aGVHD). However, their use is not validated in clinical practice yet. The endothelial activation and stress index (EASIX), a simple score based on routine laboratory parameters, is considered to be an indirect marker of endothelial damage. High value of EASIX was correlated with worse non-relapse mortality (NRM) and overall survival (OS) and a high risk of sinusoidal obstructive syndrome and transplant-associated thrombotic microangiopathy (TA-TMA). This study investigates the predictive value of plasma biomarkers and the EASIX score for the prediction of aGVHD. We assessed vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1), tumor necrosis factor receptor 1 (TNFR1), and VWF:Ag plasma levels and the EASIX score before allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo-HSCT) and on days 0, 3, 7, 14, and 21 in an experimental cohort (n = 33). EASIX was transformed to a base-2 logarithm to perform the analysis. For the most relevant biomarkers, we estimate the optimal cutoff values and the discriminatory ability to differentiate patients with high-risk of aGVHD. The conclusions obtained in the experimental cohort were validated in a large cohort of 321 patients at the same institution. Plasma biomarkers and EASIX showed similar post-transplantation dynamics consisting of a progressive increase. Multivariate analysis showed an association between high TNFR1 levels and Log-2 EASIX score on day 7 after transplantation with an increased likelihood of developing aGVHD (hazard ratio [HR] = 1, P = .002; HR = 2.31, P = .013, respectively). Patients with TNFR1 ≥1300 ng/mL (HR = 7.19, P = .006) and Log2-EASIX ≥3 (HR = 14.7, P <.001) at day 7 after transplantation were more likely to develop aGVHD with high predictive accuracy (C-index of 74% and 81%, respectively). In the validation cohort, patients with Log2-EASIX ≥3 on day 7 after transplantation presented a significantly higher incidence of grade II-IV aGVHD (HR = 1.94, P = .004) independent of GVHD prophylaxis (HR = 0.38, P = .004), conditioning regimen (HR = 0.59, P =.02) and type of donor (HR = 2.38, P = .014). Differential degree of endothelial damage can be measured using both EASIX score and plasma biomarkers in the early post-transplantation period. Patients at risk of developing aGVHD could be easily identified by a high EASIX score. Both indicators of endothelial activation represent a promising approach to predict aGVHD.

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