Regenerating islet-derived 3 alpha is a biomarker of gastrointestinal graft-versus-host disease

James L.M. Ferrara, Andrew C. Harris, Joel K. Greenson, Thomas M. Braun, Ernst Holler, Takanori Teshima, John E. Levine, Sung W.J. Choi, Elisabeth Huber, Karin Landfried, Koichi Akashi, Mark Vander Lugt, Pavan Reddy, Alice Chin, Qing Zhang, Samir Hanash, Sophie Paczesny


There are no plasma biomarkers specific for graft versus host disease (GVHD) of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, the GVHD target organ most associated with non-relapse mortality (NRM) following hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT). Using an unbiased, large-scale, quantitative proteomic discovery approach to identify candidate biomarkers that were increased in plasma from HCT patients with GI GVHD, 74 proteins were increased at least 2-fold; 5 were of GI origin. We validated the lead candidate, REG3α, by ELISA in samples from 1014 HCT patients from three transplant centers. Plasma REG3α concentrations were 3-fold higher in patients at GI GVHD onset than in all other patients and correlated most closely with lower GI GVHD. REG3α concentrations at GVHD onset predicted response to therapy at 4 weeks, 1-year NRM, and 1-year survival (p≤0.001). In a multivariate analysis, advanced clinical stage, severe histologic damage and high REG3α concentrations at GVHD diagnosis independently predicted 1-year NRM, which progressively increased with higher numbers of onset risk factors present: 25% for patients with 0 risk factors to 86% with 3 risk factors present (p<0.001). REG3α is a plasma biomarker of GI GVHD that can be combined with clinical stage and histologic grade to improve risk stratification of patients.

  • Submitted August 22, 2011.
  • Accepted September 27, 2011.