Blood Transfusion - 3 2015 (July - September)

Passenger lymphocyte syndrome in liver transplant recipients: a description of 12 cases
Authors:  Samuel Romero, Pilar Solves, Aima Lancharro, Isabel Cano, Federico Moscardó, Nelly Carpio, Miguel Á. Sanz
Pages:  423-428
To cite this article:  Blood Transfus 2015; 13: 423-8
Doi:  10.2450/2015.0148-14
Published online:  28/04/2015


Background. Passenger lymphocyte syndrome is an important cause of immune haemolysis after solid organ transplantation. It mainly occurs in minor ABO and Rh mismatched transplants. The haemolysis is usually mild and self-limited. We present our experience in passenger lymphocyte syndrome and liver transplantation and review the literature.

Materials and methods. We reviewed liver transplants performed in our centre from January 2002 to September 2013, searching for ABO or Rh incompatibility and serological findings of haemolysis. A direct antiglobulin test was systematically performed in each pre-transfusion assessment.

Results. A total of 1,217 liver transplants were performed and 12 passenger lymphocyte syndromes were detected: of the 56 cases with minor ABO incompatibility, ten patients developed passenger lymphocyte syndrome (17.9%) and of 147 cases with minor Rh incompatibility, two patients developed the syndrome (1.40%). All patients with passenger lymphocyte syndrome had haemolysis, a decrease of haemoglobin (median 6.8 g/dL) and an increase of bilirubin (median 5.15 mg/dL). The treatment of passenger lymphocyte syndrome consisted of increasing the dose of corticosteroids that the patients were receiving as post-transplantation immunosuppressive therapy and, in the majority of cases, transfusion of donor compatible red blood cells.

Discussion. Passenger lymphocyte syndrome in liver transplantation has significant clinical consequences. It is, therefore, important to make the diagnosis rapidly, performing pre-transfusion direct antiglobulin tests, and manage the problem correctly with donor compatible red blood cell transfusions and/or immunosuppressive treatment.

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