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The Natural History of Graft-Versus-Host Disease in the Eyes

This study is currently recruiting participants. (see Contacts and Locations)
Verified February 2014 by National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC)
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC) ( National Eye Institute (NEI) ) Identifier:
First received: June 8, 2011
Last updated: November 11, 2014
Last verified: February 2014


  • Stem cell transplantation (SCT) is used to treat some kinds of cancer, blood cell disorders, and immune disorders. Stem cells from a donor s blood are used to replace the recipient s stem cells in the bone marrow. The recipient s bone marrow can then produce new blood cells. Some of these new cells involved in the immune system are like the donor s cells. Sometimes immune cells from the SCT attack the recipient s normal tissues, including the eyes. This type of immune attack is called graft-versus-host disease, or GVHD.
  • The symptoms of ocular GVHD include eye pain, irritation, dryness, and inflammation. When it is severe and if it does not respond well to treatment, ocular GVHD may also cause vision loss.


- To learn more about graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) of the eyes in people who have had stem cell transplantation.


  • Participants must be at least 18 years of age.
  • They must be taking part in a study at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) or the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI).
  • They must have a SCT scheduled within the next 30 days.


  • The study lasts for 1 year and includes six visits to the National Eye Institute. (There is an optional visit about 1 month before your SCT.) When possible, visits for this study will be scheduled so that they can be done on the same day as your visits for the NCI or NHLBI protocol that you are taking part in.
  • At each visit, participants will have a medical exam and an eye history will be taken. They will have an eye exam and a test to measure the ability to make tears. Those in the study will also have tear fluid collected for analysis in a lab. Tear fluid collection is a painless process. Blood will be drawn during certain visits if it has not already been collected by the transplant team.

Graft-Versus-Host Disease

Study Type: Observational
Study Design: Time Perspective: Prospective
Official Title: The Natural History of Ocular Graft-Versus Host Disease

Resource links provided by NLM:

Further study details as provided by National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC):

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • The primary objective variable is ocular surface staining using fluorescein and lissamine green dyes. The primary subjective outcome measure is the OSDI

Secondary Outcome Measures:
  • Secondary outcome variables include changes in BCVA (ETDRS); tear film osmolarity; Schirmer's testing with anesthesia; meibomain gland function; tear break-up time.

Estimated Enrollment: 100
Study Start Date: May 2011
Detailed Description:


The study objectives are to study the development of ocular graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) in participants treated with stem cell transplantation (SCT) at the NIH, including exam findings prior to SCT, changes in ocular signs and symptoms following SCT and response to standard therapy in participants identified with dry eye and ocular GVHD; to develop clinical outcome measures for early onset and more advanced ocular GVHD and provide estimates of progression rates for these outcomes; to analyze tear fluid, impression cytology (IC) and serum samples from participants undergoing SCT, to identify biomarkers or other findings which may predict the onset of ocular GVHD or correlate with disease progression or response to therapy and to establish a cohort of participants with ocular GVHD in anticipation of future clinical trials.


Up to 50 adult participants undergoing SCT at the NIH, and up to 50 healthy adult participants will be enrolled.


This prospective, natural history study will follow participants through 12 months post-SC, with the option to extend follow-up for up to five years.


The primary objective outcome variable is ocular surface staining using fluorescein and lissamine green dyes, as measured by the Oxford criteria, with the scale ranging from 0 to 15 in each eye. The primary subjective outcome measure is the Ocular Surface Disease Index (OSDI), ranging from 0 to 100. Secondary outcome variables include best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA), tear film osmolarity, Schirmer s tear testing with anesthesia, meibomian gland function and tear break-up time. In addition, tear fluid biomarkers and/or IC will be studied as secondary outcome variables to determine whether changes in biomarker levels (tear fluid) or cell densities and morphologies (IC) correlate with the development or progression of ocular GVHD.


Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years and older
Genders Eligible for Study:   Both
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No

SCT Participants

  1. Participant must be 18 years of age or older.
  2. Participant must understand and sign the protocol s informed consent document.
  3. Participant is scheduled for a SCT under another NIH protocol within the next 30 days.
  4. Participant is willing and able to comply with the study procedures and follow-up visits.

Healthy Participants

  1. Participant must be 18 years of age or older.
  2. Participant must understand and sign the protocol s informed consent document.
  3. Participant has no more than minimal current dry eye disease, defined as no more than minimal dry eye symptoms, Schirmer s with anesthesia (Bullet) 6, tear break-up time (TBUT) (Bullet) 6, and corneal staining (Oxford) < 3 in both eyes.


SCT Participants

  1. Participant has a history of ocular problems which could interfere with the natural history of their response to treatment with SCT. Examples include significant dry eye disease, use of cyclosporine eye drops in the past 30 days and conjunctival scarring for any reason.
  2. Participant has known allergies to dilating or anesthetic eye drops.
  Contacts and Locations
Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the Contacts provided below. For general information, see Learn About Clinical Studies.

Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT01369914

Contact: Angel H Garced, R.N. (301) 594-3141
Contact: Rachel J Bishop, M.D. (301) 402-3771

United States, Maryland
National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, 9000 Rockville Pike Recruiting
Bethesda, Maryland, United States, 20892
Contact: For more information at the NIH Clinical Center contact Patient Recruitment and Public Liaison Office (PRPL)    800-411-1222 ext TTY8664111010   
Sponsors and Collaborators
Principal Investigator: Rachel J Bishop, M.D. National Eye Institute (NEI)
  More Information

Additional Information:
Responsible Party: National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC) ( National Eye Institute (NEI) ) Identifier: NCT01369914     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: 110173, 11-EI-0173
Study First Received: June 8, 2011
Last Updated: November 11, 2014
Health Authority: United States: Federal Government

Keywords provided by National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC):
Graft-Versus-Host Disease
Natural History Study
Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
Graft vs Host Disease
Immune System Diseases processed this record on November 27, 2014