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Bartonella-related pseudomembranous angiomatous papillomatosis of the oral cavity associated with allogeneic bone marrow transplantation and oral graft-versus-host disease

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Patients undergoing allogeneic stem cell transplantation are at high risk for infection with a variety of pathogens during different phases of the procedure. Human infections due to Bartonella spp. are viewed as emerging diseases typical in, although not exclusive to, immunosuppressed patients, in particular those with AIDS, organ transplants and haematological malignancies. We describe four patients, three children and one adult, who developed vegetating papillomatous lesions exclusively on the oral mucosae. They shared a history of haematological malignancy and allogeneic bone marrow/stem cell transplantation, and later developed chronic graft-versus-host disease, also involving the oral mucosae. Histopathologically, the vegetating lesions were characterized by a diffuse neoangiogenesis, granulation-like tissue, and a mixed cell infiltrate predominantly composed of neutrophils. Gram-negative bacteria were found in the endothelial cells of the vessels in the deeper portion of the corium by electron microscopy. In three cases, DNA of B. henselae was detected by polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and confirmed by sequencing of the PCR products. All the lesions healed after systemic antibiotic therapy, although some recurred after months, and regressed again after systemic antibiotic treatment associated with conservative surgical excision.
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Keywords: Bartonella henselae; chronic graft-versus-host disease; haematological malignancies; oral mucosa; papillomatosis

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Oncoematologia Pediatrica 2: Centro Trapianti di Midollo Osseo, Istituto di Ematologia 3: Laboratory of Electron Microscopy, Department of Infectious Diseases 4: Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, University of Pavia, Fondazione IRCCS Policlinico San Matteo, Piazzale Golgi 2, 27100 Pavia, Italy 5: IZSLER Sezione Diagnostica, Pavia, Italy

Publication date: 2007-07-01

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