Jonathan U. Peled, MD: Disruptions in the Gut Microbiota on Post-Transplantation Outcomes

Jonathan U. Peled, MD, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center discusses his study which looked at whether pre-HCT microbiota configuration may be an important determinant of post-transplantation outcomes. The study reported from a multicenter analysis conducted at four independent international institutions to test this hypothesis.

The complications from a hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) is higher if a patient has lower diversity of microbes residing in the gut before beginning the transplantation process. While previous research has shown a similar relationship between outcomes and gut microbial composition shortly after transplantation, this study suggests that the association starts even before patients begin transplantation.

Hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) is a procedure in which a patient receives blood-forming stem cells from a genetically similar donor. This approach is often used to treat aggressive blood cancers, but it can be associated with severe complications such as graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), a serious and potentially life-threatening complication that occurs when the donated immune cells attack the patient’s cells as foreign tissue.

Although this is an observational study and doesn’t show cause and effect, the results suggest that it may be possible to reduce patients’ risk of complications by taking steps to improve the health of their gut microbiota before beginning HCT.