Allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation is a potentially curative treatment of different hematological malignancies. A major life-threatening complication is acute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), in particular when the disease becomes steroid refractory. Based on the detection of pathogenic cytokines, chemokines, and T-cell subsets in individuals developing GVHD or experimental GVHD models, different therapeutic strategies have been developed. A potential cause why targeting individual receptors can lack efficacy could be that multiple cytokines, danger signals, and chemokine that have redundant functions are released during GVHD. To overcome this redundancy, novel strategies that do not target individual surface molecules like chemokine receptors, integrins, and cytokine receptors, but instead inhibit signaling pathways downstream of these molecules, have been tested in preclinical GVHD models and are currently being tested in clinical GVHD trials. Another important development is tissue regenerative approaches that promote healing of GVHD-related tissue damage as well as strategies that rely on microbiota modifications. These approaches are promising because they act very differently from conventional immunosuppression, instead aiming at reinstalling tissue homeostasis and microbiome diversity. This review discusses major novel developments in GVHD therapy that are based on a better understanding of GVHD biology, the repurposing of novel kinase inhibitors, microbiome modification strategies, and tissue-regenerative approaches.

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