Graft-versus-host Disease

Penn dermatologists in Philadelphia offer highly specialized care for patients that had a stem cell or bone marrow transplant and develop mild to severe skin complications such as rashes, redness of the skin or blistering and peeling related to graft-versus-host disease.

What is Skin Graft-Versus-Host Disease?

Graft-versus-host disease is a complication that may occur after a stem cell transplant or bone marrow transplant when the donor’s stem cells or “graft” attack the organs and tissues of the recipient or “host.” Graft-versus-host disease occurs when the donated cells or bone marrow view the recipient’s body as foreign and compromise the immune system causing acute or chronic problems, especially to the skin, liver and gastrointestinal tract.

Penn’s dermatologists work directly with Penn hematologists/oncologists and referring physicians to coordinate a multidisciplinary care plan customized for every patient, which may include topical or oral medications or photopheresis treatment.

Photopheresis Clinic

Penn Dermatology is one of the few health care facilities in the region with specialized photopheresis services and an outpatient clinic for treating graft-versus-host-disease, T-cell lymphoma and solid organ transplant recipients.

Photopheresis is a highly specialized medical process that extracts and separates patients’ white blood cells from the blood and exposes them to ultraviolet light and a photoactive drug. This process modifies the function of the white blood cells to potentially control or eliminate the cells contributing to the disease. The modified white blood cells are returned to patients to potentially stimulate a positive therapeutic response.