The microbe-derived SCFAs butyrate and propionate in the systemic circulation are associated with protection from cGVHD.
cGVHD is associated with gastrointestinal dysbiosis late after HCT.
Studies of the relationship between the gastrointestinal microbiota and outcomes in allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo-HCT) have thus far largely focused on early complications, predominantly infection and acute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). We examined the potential relationship of the microbiome with chronic GVHD (cGVHD) by analyzing stool and plasma samples collected late after allo-HCT using a case-control study design. We found lower circulating concentrations of the microbe-derived short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) propionate and butyrate in day 100 plasma samples from patients who developed cGVHD, compared with those who remained free of this complication, in the initial case-control cohort of transplant patients and in a further cross-sectional cohort from an independent transplant center. An additional cross-sectional patient cohort from a third transplant center was analyzed; however, serum (rather than plasma) was available, and the differences in SCFAs observed in the plasma samples were not recapitulated. In sum, our findings from the primary case-control cohort and 1 of 2 cross-sectional cohorts explored suggest that the gastrointestinal microbiome may exert immunomodulatory effects in allo-HCT patients at least in part due to control of systemic concentrations of microbe-derived SCFAs.