Similar donors—similar blood?




Red blood cell (RBC) storage lesions have been suggested as contributing factors to suboptimal clinical outcomes. While undesirable effects of storage are well documented, their clinical relevance is still debated. Focus on storage time as the sole determinant of RBC quality ignores the variability in cell properties that may depend on factors other than age. Mechanical fragility (MF) aggregately reflects many storage-related functional and structural changes. This study evaluates interdonor versus intradonor variability, throughout storage, of both MF and autohemolysis (AH).

Study Design and Methods

Thirteen uniformly manufactured RBC units were collected initially as whole blood from nonsmoking, group A+, male Caucasian research donors. Mechanical stress was applied using a bead mill with oscillation at 50 Hz over durations varying from 0.5 to 60 minutes. MF profiles were described in terms of percent hemolysis after stresses of specified durations. Two months later, 11 of the 13 donors returned and assays were performed using the same protocol to allow comparison of intradonor versus interdonor variation.


At 5 days postcollection, RBC MF profiles exhibited marked interdonor variability (up to twofold) overall. Both autolysis and MF across all units increased during storage—with rates of these increases varying by up to 10-fold for certain MF variables. Especially high AH and MF were observed for an outlier donor (with p < 0.05), for whom follow-up revealed previously undisclosed hereditary hypertriglyceridemia (levels exceeding approx. 1000 mg/dL).


RBCs, even from similar donors, vary significantly in levels and changes of both AH and MF, the clinical significance of which must still be ascertained. While further study is needed, donors with severe hypertriglyceridemia may not be appropriate as blood donors due to the unacceptable level of hemolysis observed during storage of our affected study subject.