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Pediatric Cutaneous Graft Versus Host Disease: A Review.

BACKGROUND: Graft versus host disease (GVHD) is a significant complication following hematopoietic stem cell transplantation in the pediatric population. The most common clinical manifestation of GVHD is in the skin. This article will present a review of key concepts related to pediatric cutaneous GVHD, including pathophysiology, clinical epidemiology, diagnosis, and treatment options.

OBJECTIVE: GVHD is an immune-mediated process characterized by an inflammatory immune response in acute GVHD and mixed inflammatory and fibrotic states in chronic GVHD. The clinical presentations of cutaneous GVHD are heterogeneous.

METHOD: Acute cutaneous GVHD classically presents as an erythematous morbilliform eruption appearing within a few weeks after transplantation. Chronic cutaneous GVHD may manifest as poikiloderma, lichenoid lesions, or sclerodermatous changes. The sclerodermatous form of cutaneous GVHD is associated with substantial long-term morbidity, including joint contractures, myalgias, and mobility restriction.

RESULTS: First-line pharmacologic treatment options typically include corticosteroids and in some cases, calcineurin inhibitors. Biologics and immunotherapies are an active area of investigation for GVHD that is refractory to corticosteroid treatment. Non-pharmacologic treatment options that have shown benefit for cutaneous GVHD include extracorporeal photopheresis and phototherapy.

CONCLUSION: Accurate diagnosis and treatment of cutaneous GVHD is essential to preventing and alleviating the long-term sequelae and morbidity associated with this condition.

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