[Transfusion related acute lung injury (TRALI): an unrecognised pathology]

V Moalic, C Vaillant, C Ferec
Pathologie-biologie 2005, 53 (2): 111-5
Transfusion related acute lung injury (TRALI) is a rare but potentially severe complication of blood transfusion, manifested by pulmonary oedema, fever and hypotension. The signs and symptoms are often attributed to other clinical aspects of a patient's condition, and therefore, TRALI may go unrecognised. It has been estimated to be the third cause of transfusion related mortality, so it should be better diagnosed. Cases are related to multiple blood units, such as white blood cells, red blood cells, fresh frozen plasma, platelets or intravenous immunoglobulins. Physiopathology of TRALI is poorly understood, and still controversial. It is often due to an immunological conflict between transfused plasma antibodies and recipients' blood cells. These antibodies are either HLA (class I or II) or granulocyte-specific. They appear to act as mediators, which result in granulocytes aggregation, activation and micro vascular pulmonary injury. Lipids or cytokines in blood units are also involved as TRALI priming agents. Diagnosis is based on antibody screening in blood components and on specific-antigen detection in the recipient. The screening of anti-HLA or anti-granulocytes is recommended as part of prevention for female donors who had been pregnant. Preventative measures should also include leucoreduction and measures to decrease the amount of priming agents in blood components. In this article, we summarise what is known about TRALI, and we focus attention on unanswered questions and controversial issues related to TRALI.

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