Oral Disease Profiles in Chronic Graft versus Host Disease Journal Articles uri icon

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  • At least half of patients with chronic graft-versus-host-disease (cGVHD), the leading cause of morbidity and non-relapse mortality after allogeneic stem cell transplantation, have oral manifestations: mucosal lesions, salivary dysfunction, and limited mouth-opening. cGVHD may manifest in a single organ or affect multiple organ systems, including the mouth, eyes, and the skin. The interrelationship of the 3 oral manifestations of cGVHD with each other and with the specific manifestations of extraoral cGVHD has not been studied. In this analysis, we explored, in a large group of patients with cGVHD, the potential associations between: (1) oral mucosal disease and erythematous skin disease, (2) salivary gland dysfunction and lacrimal gland dysfunction, and (3) limited mouth-opening and sclerotic skin cGVHD. Study participants, enrolled in a cGVHD Natural History Protocol (NCT00331968, n = 212), underwent an oral examination evaluating: (1) mucosal cGVHD [NIH Oral Mucosal Score (OMS)], (2) salivary dysfunction (saliva flow and xerostomia), and (3) maximum mouth-opening measurement. Parameters for dysfunction (OMS > 2, saliva flow ≤ 1 mL/5 min, mouth-opening ≤ 35 mm) were analyzed for association with skin cGVHD involvement (erythema and sclerosis, skin symptoms), lacrimal dysfunction (Schirmer’s tear test, xerophthalmia), Lee cGVHD Symptom Scores, and NIH organ scores. Oral mucosal disease (31% prevalence) was associated with skin erythema ( P < 0.001); salivary dysfunction (11% prevalence) was associated with lacrimal dysfunction ( P = 0.010) and xerostomia with xerophthalmia (r = 0.32, P = 0.001); and limited mouth-opening (17% prevalence) was associated with skin sclerosis ( P = 0.008) and skin symptoms ( P = 0.001). There was no association found among these 3 oral cGVHD manifestations. This analysis supports the understanding of oral cGVHD as 3 distinct diseases: mucosal lesions, salivary gland dysfunction, and mouth sclerosis. Clear classification of oral cGVHD as 3 separate manifestations will improve clinical diagnosis, observational research data collection, and the definitions of outcome measures in clinical trials.


  • Bassim, Carol Walker
  • Fassil, H
  • Mays, JW
  • Edwards, D
  • Baird, K
  • Steinberg, SM
  • Cowen, EW
  • Naik, H
  • Datiles, M
  • Stratton, P
  • Gress, RE
  • Pavletic, SZ

publication date

  • April 2015

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