BACKGROUND: Long-term white blood cell (WBC) microchimerism (MC), of at least 2 years, has been reported in trauma patients receiving fresh nonleukoreduced (non-LR) blood. It is unknown, however, whether this occurs with LR blood products that are nearly devoid of WBCs. Twenty-seven patients transfused with LR and non-LR blood products were studied after severe traumatic injury. A secondary aim was to explore donor-recipient mixed lymphocyte reactivity in vitro.
STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: To quantify MC, allele-specific real-time polymerase chain reaction assays were developed targeting HLA Class II sequence polymorphisms. Extensive validation showed that these assays reliably detect a single copy of target sequence in a complex allogeneic background without false positivity.
RESULTS: At a median follow-up of 26 months (range, 24-39 months), long-term MC was observed in 3 of 20 patients (15%) who received non-LR blood products and 2 of 7 (29%) who received LR blood products. The maximum MC ranged from 0.40 to 4.90 percent of circulating WBCs and appeared, by Class II genotype analysis, to be attributable to a single donor.
CONCLUSION: It is concluded that robust levels of long-term MC, apparently traceable to a single donor, occur at similar frequency despite leukoreduction of transfused blood products. Exploratory analysis of donor-recipient mixed lymphocyte reactivity suggests that long-term MC may require a state of bidirectional tolerance before transfusion.