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Transfusion-induced bone marrow transplant rejection due to minor histocompatibility antigens

Seema R Patel, James C Zimring
Transfusion Medicine Reviews 2013, 27 (4): 241-8
Traditionally, alloimmunization to transfused blood products has focused exclusively on recipient antibodies recognizing donor alloantigens present on the cell surface. Accordingly, the immunologic sequelae of alloimmunization have been antibody mediated effects (ie, hemolytic transfusion reactions, platelet refractoriness, anti-HLA and anti-HNA effects, etc). However, in addition to the above sequelae, there is also a correlation between the number of antecedent transfusions in humans and the rate of bone marrow transplant (BMT) rejection-under reduced intensity conditioning with HLA-matched or HLA-identical marrow. Bone marrow transplant of this nature is the only existing cure for a series of nonmalignant hematologic diseases (eg, sickle cell disease, thalassemias, etc); however, rejection remains a clinical problem. It has been hypothesized that transfusion induces subsequent BMT rejection through immunization. Studies in animal models have observed the same effect and have demonstrated that transfusion-induced BMT rejection can occur in response to alloimmunization. However, unlike traditional antibody responses, sensitization in this case results in cellular immune effects, involving populations such as T cell or natural killer cells. In this case, rejection occurs in the absence of alloantibodies and would not be detected by existing immune-hematologic methods. We review human and animal studies in light of the hypothesis that, for distinct clinical populations, enhanced rejection of BMT may be an unappreciated adverse consequence of transfusion, which current blood bank methodologies are unable to detect.


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