DOI: 10.1001/jamadermatol.2023.4933 ISSN: 2168-6068

Risk of Subsequent Vitiligo in Transplant Recipients With Comorbid Graft-vs-Host Disease

Chul Hwan Bang, Hae Eun Park, Yeong Ho Kim, Jin-Hyung Jung, Ji Hyun Lee, Young Min Park, Ju Hee Han
  • Dermatology


Vitiligo is a multifactorial, depigmenting skin disorder characterized by selective loss of melanocytes. Large-scale studies are lacking to determine the risk of vitiligo in transplant recipients with graft-vs-host disease (GVHD).


To investigate the incidence rates and risk of vitiligo in patients who had received solid organ transplant (SOT) or hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) overall and by HSCT graft type and concomitant GVHD.

Design, Setting, and Participants

This population-based cohort study included data from the National Health Insurance Service database of Korea for patients aged 20 years or older who had received a transplant (SOT or HSCT) between January 2010 and December 2017, with follow-up until December 2019. A cohort of age- and sex-matched (1:5) control individuals who did not receive a transplant was included for comparison. Data were analyzed from July 2021 to December 2021.


Transplant (SOT or HSCT) and GVHD.

Main Outcomes and Measures

The main outcome was risk of vitiligo, assessed using multivariable Cox proportional hazards regression analyses adjusting for potential confounding factors.


The study included 23 829 patients who had undergone SOT or HSCT (62.78% male; mean [SD] age, 49.58 [11.59] years) and 119 145 age- and sex-matched controls. Patients who had undergone transplant had a significantly higher risk of vitiligo compared with controls (adjusted hazard ratio [AHR], 1.73; 95% CI, 1.35-2.22). Risk of vitiligo was also slightly higher in kidney transplant recipients and liver transplant recipients compared with the controls but was highest in HSCT recipients (AHR, 12.69; 95% CI, 5.11-31.50). Patients who had received allogeneic grafts (AHR, 14.43; 95% CI, 5.61-37.15), those who had received autologous grafts (AHR, 5.71; 95% CI, 1.20-3.18), those with comorbid GVHD (AHR, 24.09; 95% CI, 9.16-63.35), and those without GVHD (AHR, 8.21; 95% CI, 3.08-21.87) had a higher risk of vitiligo compared with controls.

Conclusion and Relevance

In this study, risk of vitiligo was significantly higher in transplant recipients, especially in HSCT recipients and those with allogeneic grafts or comorbid GVHD. These findings provide new insights into the association between the risk of vitiligo and transplant and GVHD. Clinicians should be aware of these risks, implementing a multidisciplinary approach for monitoring.

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