Anti-D immunization by DEL red blood cells

Thomas Wagner, Günther F Körmöczi, Christoph Buchta, Maria Vadon, Gerhard Lanzer, Wolfgang R Mayr, Tobias J Legler
Transfusion 2005, 45 (4): 520-6

BACKGROUND: No data are available on the immunogenicity of extremely weak D variants called DEL. Evaluation of alloanti-D formation in a D- female patient after transfusion of apparently D- blood from an Austrian donor led to discovery of a so far unknown DEL type.

STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: Standard blood group serologic methods were applied. Molecular typing, RHD sequencing, and D epitope mapping was performed and the absolute D antigen density determined.

RESULTS: After transfusion of RBCs typed D- by routine serology, the recipient developed alloanti-D. Further evaluation with an indirect antiglobulin test confirmed donor RBCs to be D-. Molecular typing, however, demonstrated the presence of the RHD gene in one donor, and RHD sequencing revealed a deletion of four nucleotides in RHD intron 5 (RHD IVS5-38del4) as the only difference compared to the normal RHD gene. Adsorption-elution techniques demonstrated a DEL phenotype without apparent loss of D epitopes.

CONCLUSION: This study documents the clinical significance of the DEL phenotype in blood units that was capable of inducing anti-D in a recipient. Qualitative data are provided on D epitope expression in DEL RBCs.

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