The preservation of red cell antigens at low ionic strength


1SNBTS Headquarters Unit Laboratory, 2 Forrest Road, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK


Low-ionic-strength saline (LISS) techniques permit a safe and substantial reduction in incubation time and have therefore become the method of choice for antibody detection and compatibility testing in many transfusion laboratories. Consequently, the supply of reagent red cells (RBCs) in a low-ionic-strength preservative solution would remove the daily need for laboratories to wash and resuspend cells in LISS before use. However, the storage of fresh RBCs at low ionic strength in the presence of aminoglycoside antibiotics can cause a rapid loss of certain antigens, possibly as a result of the release of proteolytic enzymes from contaminating white cells. This article describes a low-ionic-strength solution that achieves preservation of antigens on liquid nitrogen-frozen-thawed RBCs for 21 days' storage at 4°C.