The Pathological Spectrum of Hepatic GVHD

  • Keith R. Loeb
  • David W. Woolston
  • Howard M. ShulmanEmail author


Liver GVHD has declined in recent years but still remains a serious complication of HSCT. The characteristic features involve damaged small bile ducts and cholestasis. There are several different presentations of liver GVHD including those which present as acute GVHD with skin and especially gut involvement. Prolonged acute GVHD of the liver first targets and destroys bile ducts, leading to marked secondary changes of cholestasis. Another presentation of GVHD occurs later as a slowly progressing cholestatic injury without elevations of aminotransferases. Evaluation of liver GVHD involves cytokeratin immunostaining, which helps identify and quantify the bile ducts, and other stains including the periodic acid-Schiff (PAS) stain, which highlights the hepatic architecture and helps identify abnormal and damaged bile ducts. The interpretation of posttransplant liver biopsies must incorporate clinical factors including time posttransplant, exposure to immunosuppression, and other potential causes including drug-induced liver injury (DILI).


Hepatic GVHD Bile duct injury Cholestatic liver disease Vanishing bile ducts Ductopenia Cholangitis lenta 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Keith R. Loeb
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • David W. Woolston
    • 1
  • Howard M. Shulman
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Clinical Research DivisionFred Hutchinson Cancer Research CenterSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Department of PathologyUniversity of Washington School of MedicineSeattleUSA
  3. 3.Pathology SectionSeattle Cancer Care AllianceSeattleUSA

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