International Journal of Hematology

DOI: 10.1007/s12185-019-02702-1 Pages: 635-639

A case of central nervous system graft-versus-host disease following allogeneic stem cell transplantation

1. The Catholic University of Korea, Department of Internal Medicine, Seoul St. Mary’s Hematology Hospital, College of Medicine

2. The Catholic University of Korea, Leukemia Research Institute, College of Medicine

Correspondence to:
Yoo-Jin Kim
Tel: +82-2-2258-6057



Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) is a serious complication of allogeneic stem cell transplantation (SCT). Here, we report a rare case of GVHD involving the central nervous system (CNS). A 35-year-old woman was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome unclassifiable and underwent allogeneic peripheral blood SCT for disease progression to myelodysplastic syndrome with excess blasts-2. One year following SCT, she experienced chronic oral and hepatic GVHD symptoms, which were managed with oral steroids and tacrolimus. Sixteen months after SCT, she developed sudden-onset, generalized, tonic–clonic-type seizures. Magnetic resonance imaging and cerebrospinal fluid evaluation showed multiple discrete white lesions and elevated IgG levels. Brain biopsy revealed periventricular plaques with the destruction of axons, representing a demyelinating disease of the CNS. We diagnosed the case as CNS GVHD. Neurologic symptoms gradually improved with methylprednisolone pulse therapy and total plasma exchange combined with a calcineurin inhibitor; the brain lesions nearly disappeared after decreasing steroid maintenance dosage, and were completely resolved 1 year after the onset of CNS GVHD. The patient is CNS GVHD-symptom-free, 3-year post-transplantation. Thus, CNS GVHD should be considered in cases of newly developed neurologic symptoms in SCT recipients showing evidence of preceding chronic GVHD.

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