Pre-Transplant Prediction of Acute Graft-versus-Host Disease Using the Gut Microbiome

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Gut microbiota is thought to influence host responses to allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (aHSCT). Recent evidence points to this post-transplant for acute graft-versus-host disease (aGvHD). We asked whether any such association might be found pre-transplant and conducted a metagenome-wide association study (MWAS) to explore. Microbial abundance profiles were estimated using ensembles of Kaiju, Kraken2, and DeepMicrobes calls followed by dimensionality reduction. The area under the curve (AUC) was used to evaluate classification of the samples (aGvHD vs. none) using an elastic net to test the relevance of metagenomic data. Clinical data included the underlying disease (leukemia vs. other hematological malignancies), recipient age, and sex. Among 172 aHSCT patients of whom 42 developed aGVHD post transplantation, a total of 181 pre-transplant tool samples were analyzed. The top performing model predicting risk of aGVHD included a reduced species profile (AUC = 0.672). Beta diversity (37% in Jaccard’s Nestedness by mean fold change, p < 0.05) was lower in those developing aGvHD. Ten bacterial species including Prevotella and Eggerthella genera were consistently found to associate with aGvHD in indicator species analysis, as well as relief and impurity-based algorithms. The findings support the hypothesis on potential associations between gut microbiota and aGvHD based on a data-driven approach to MWAS. This highlights the need and relevance of routine stool collection for the discovery of novel biomarkers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4089
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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© 2022 by the authors.

    Research areas

  • aGvHD biomarkers, allo-HSCT, deep learning, human gut microbiome, metagenome-wide association, next generation sequencing, pre-transplant screening, taxonomic assignment

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