High additional maternal red cell alloimmunization after Rhesus- and K-matched intrauterine intravascular transfusions for hemolytic disease of the fetus

Henk Schonewille, Frans J C M Klumper, Leo M G van de Watering, Humphrey H H Kanhai, Anneke Brand
American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 2007, 196 (2): 143.e1-6

OBJECTIVE: Intrauterine transfusion (IUT) is a life-saving therapy for the severely anemic fetus with hemolytic disease. However, maternal additional antibody formation is a complication of the procedure. In this study, we determined antibody formation after introduction of preventive Rh-D, -C, -c, -E, and -e and K matching of IUT donors.

STUDY DESIGN: This was a retrospective follow-up study.

RESULTS: During an 11-year period, 686 Rhesus- and K-matched IUTs were performed in 233 pregnancies and in 95% (652/686) posttransfusion antibody testing was performed after a median interval of 21 days. Twenty-five percent (53/212) of the women formed 64 new antibodies and, compared to our previous study, this incidence was not decreased by the use of Rhesus- and K-matched donors. After delivery, 72% (153/212) of the women had multiple RBC antibodies. Additional antibodies were in 48% (31/64) directed against Rhesus and K antigens, induced by the fetus, or as natural antibodies. In 52% (33/64) the antibodies were directed against non-Rhesus and -K antigens and in 65% (11/17) of eligible cases the IUT donor and not the fetus expressed the corresponding antigen(s).

CONCLUSION: Despite Rhesus- and K-matching, women treated with IUTs still show strikingly broad red cell alloimmunization. More extensive IUT donor red cell matching, including FY, JK, and S antigens, to reduce the formation of new red cell antibodies should be explored.

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