BACKGROUND: Blood group incompatibility does not appear to affect the overall outcome in patients undergoing myeloablative conditioning before allogeneic BMT. Data on ABO-mismatched transplantation in the nonmyeloablative setting are limited.

STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: A retrospective analysis of the effects of ABO mismatches in multiple myeloma patients who received a nonmyeloablative conditioning regimen was conducted.

RESULTS: Three of 27 patients received a minor ABO-mismatched graft, all with evidence of hemolysis before converting to donor ABO group on Days 10, 15, and 6. Six patients received a major ABO-mismatched graft; of these, three developed GVHD of more than grade 2 and subsequently converted to the ABO blood group of the donor on Days 38, 33, and 43. Of the three patients without GVHD, one rejected the allograft and had autologous reconstitution. One remained a mixed chimera to Day 100 despite three donor lymphocyte infusions, and one developed pure RBC aplasia. None of the ABO-matched patients rejected the graft, whether they developed GVHD or not. RBC transfusions were significantly higher in the major and minor ABO-mismatched patients than in the ABO-matched patients, with medians of 12 units (range, 2-35), 13 units (range, 5-18), and 4 units (range, 2-15), respectively (p = 0.02). ABO-matched patients had a similar incidence of GVHD, with 5 of 9 ABO-mismatched patients (56%) having more than grade 2 versus 10 of 18 (56%). Four of 9 ABO-mismatched patients (44%) were mixed chimeras up to Day 100 versus 2 of 18 ABO-matched patients (11%), and the difference was significant (p = 0.01).

CONCLUSION: Patients with ABO mismatch had problems with engraftment, including graft rejection, pure RBC aplasia, and mixed-lineage chimerism. RBC transfusions were significantly higher in the ABO-mismatched recipients. GVHD may play a role in engraftment, possibly by facilitating the disappearance of native ABO antibodies via graft-versus-plasma cell effect. A prospective study to evaluate the effects of ABO mismatch on engraftment in the nonmyeloablative setting is needed.