Alloimmunization and autoimmunization in adult transfusion-dependent thalassemia patients: a report from a comprehensive center in Israel

Idit Pazgal, Vered Yahalom, Bruria Shalev, Pia Raanani, Pinhas Stark*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Patients with beta thalassemia major (TM) are transfusion-dependent (TD) since early childhood and for life. Development of alloantibodies and autoantibodies against red blood cell (RBC) antigens is increasingly recognized as a significant transfusion hazard, especially among heavily transfused patients. The aim of this study is to assess RBC alloimmunization and autoimmunization rates in TD TM patients treated in our Comprehensive Center of Adult Thalassemia, Hemoglobinopathies and Rare Anemias. TD TM patients, regularly transfused every 2–3 weeks, were included in the study. Clinical and RBC transfusion records, including RBC antibodies, since diagnosis in early childhood, were retrieved from patients’ files and from the blood bank database. Forty TD TM patients, > 18 years of age, were included in the study. Alloimmunization was demonstrated in 17 (42.5%) patients. Thirty-four alloantibodies were detected, with the most frequent being RH related (12 of 34, 35.3%) followed by those of the Kell system (8 of 34, 23.5%). Age at first transfusion was positively related to the probability of developing alloantibodies (p = 0.02). Splenectomy was found to be correlated with developing alloantibodies (p = 0.016). Logistic regression analysis of the lifelong probability of developing alloantibodies on the age at first transfusion and splenectomy demonstrates a strong positive relationship (p = 0.002). A substantially high rate of alloimmunization was found among adult TD TM patients. Early initiation of RBC transfusions, avoidance of splenectomy and extended Rh and K antigen matching, can reduce the incidence of alloimmunization in TD TM patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2731-2736
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Hematology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Alloimmunization
  • RBC transfusions
  • Thalassemia major


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