Chronic GVHD (cGVHD) after allogeneic hematopoietic SCT (HSCT) is characterized by an infiltration of T cells into target organs including the oral mucosa and salivary glands. This study was designed to clarify the molecular mechanism of the local accumulation of pathogenic T cells in cGVHD. The expression of cytokines, chemokines and chemokine receptors in the buccal mucosa (BM), labial salivary glands (LSG) and PBMC from 16 patients with cGVHD after allogeneic HSCT was examined. The mRNA expression of T helper 1 (Th1) and Th2 cytokines, and several chemokines and chemokine receptors was significantly increased in the BM and LSG from cGVHD patients, in comparison with both those in the BM and LSG from controls, respectively, and also with those in the PBMC from cGVHD patients. Furthermore, the mRNA expression of Th2 cytokines, macrophage-derived chemokine and CC chemokine receptor 4 was closely associated with a strong T-cell infiltration in the BM and LSG from cGVHD patients. These results suggest that cGVHD might be initiated and/or maintained by Th1/Th0 cells and thereafter progresses in association with Th2 cell accumulation via the interaction of particular chemokine and chemokine receptors.
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