Background. Acute and delayed haemolysis, alloimmunisation and pure red cell aplasia (PRCA) are potential complications after ABO incompatible haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). The aims of this study were to investigate acute and delayed red blood cell (RBC) antibody-associated complications, including haemolysis, PRCA and alloimmunisation in major and bidirectional ABO incompatible HSCT.
Materials and methods. We retrospectively examined the transplant courses of 36 recipients of bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cells from ABO incompatible donors and evaluated the current practice of performing plasmapheresis in patients with higher isoagglutinin titres. We investigated the role of ABO incompatibility in haematopoietic recovery, transfusion requirements, alloimmunisation and PRCA.
Results. Laboratory signs of acute haemolysis were noted in five (14%) patients, one (3%) of whom had clinically overt haemolysis. Patients with haemolysis had IgM titres ≥1:8 and received >16 mL of RBC in the HSCT. In patients with higher titres, plasmapheresis performed prior to the transplant prevented acute haemolysis. Delayed haemolysis was not recorded in the follow up. Haematopoietic recovery and transfusion requirements did not differ notably between patients with and without haemolysis. De novo RBC antibodies were detected in two (5.5%) patients after HSCT, and PRCA was noted in one (3%) patient.
Discussion. Carried out with adequate graft processing, plasmapheresis and blood component support, haemolysis is not a common complication after HSCT. Our results confirm that the occurrence of haemolysis depends on larger RBC volumes and higher isoagglutinin titres. Despite the reduction of patients' isoagglutinin titres by plasmapheresis, we still noted a critical combination for the development of laboratory signs of haemolysis (IgM titre ≥1:8 and RBC volume >16 mL). De novo immunisation to RBC antigens and PRCA are rare events following ABO incompatible HSCT.
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