RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
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Comparison of two column agglutination tests for red blood cell antibody testing.

BACKGROUND: Several sensitive methods are available for red blood cell (RBC) antibody screening. Among these, gel and glass card systems have demonstrated comparably good performance in retrospective studies and are widely used in routine patient diagnostics, but their performance in prospective studies has not been sufficiently characterised.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: Gel card (Bio-Rad DiaMed) and glass bead-based (Ortho Clinical Diagnostics) column agglutination technologies were used to screen for antibodies prospectively (group A) and for antibody identification in stored and fresh samples known to contain RBC antibodies retrospectively (group B). Untreated reagent RBCs and either papain-treated (Bio-Rad) or ficin-treated panel C cells (Ortho) were used for antibody identification.

RESULTS: RBC-reactive antibodies were detected in 22 of 1000 group A samples, three of which tested positive only by gel card agglutination, and four only by glass bead agglutination (including one false positive each). Group B comprised 202 sera with known antibodies: 33 of these samples contained 36 antibodies detected only by gel card agglutination, whereas 9 samples contained antibodies detectable only by glass bead-based agglutination. Discrepancies mostly involved weak antibodies reactive by enzyme only. Two sera contained antibody mixtures that neither system detected completely. Of note, in antibody differentiation batches one and two, anti-Lua was reactive in 7 of 7 and 1 of 8 samples, respectively.

CONCLUSION: Both column agglutination tests for red cell antibodies had equal sensitivity and specificity with unstored samples. In stored samples, weak and enzyme-only antibodies were more frequently detected with the gel card system.

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