Blood Transfusion 2/2017 - Thematic issue on "Red blood cell storage and clinical outcomes: new insights" (March-April)
Red blood cell components: time to revisit the sources of variability
Authors:  Rosemary L. Sparrow
Pages:  116-125
To cite this article: 
Doi:  10.2450/2017.0326-16
Published online:  20/02/2017

Quality and safety of red blood cell (RBC) components is managed by screening of donors and strict regulatory controls of blood collection, processing and storage procedures. Despite these efforts, variations in RBC component quality exist as exemplified by the wide range in storage-induced haemolysis. This article provides a brief overview of the variables that contribute or potentially contribute to the quality of stored RBC components, including blood collection, processing, and donor-related variables. Particular focus is made on donor health and lifestyle factors that are not specifically screened and may impact on the physicobiochemical properties of RBCs and their storability. Inflammatory and oxidative stress states may be especially relevant as RBCs are susceptible to oxidative injury. Few studies have investigated the effect of specific donor-related variables on the quality of stored RBC components. Donor-related variables may be unaccounted confounders in the "age of blood" clinical studies that compared outcomes following transfusion of fresher or longer-stored RBC components. The conclusion is drawn that the blood donor is the greatest source of RBC component variability and the least "regulated" aspect of blood component production. It is proposed that more research is needed to better understand the connection between donor-related variables and quality consistency of stored RBC components. This could be very important given the impact of modern lifestyles that sees escalating rates of non-communicable health conditions that are associated with increased oxidative stress, such as hypertension, obesity and diabetes in children and adults, as well as an ageing population in many countries. The effect of these changes to global health and population demographics will impact on blood donor panels, and without significant new research, the consequences on the quality of stored blood components and transfusion outcomes are unknown.

Keywords: blood donor, component processing, red blood cells, transfusion.
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