Irradiation and prolonged storage of red cells are associated with increased adverse events

J. Chen, E. Biller, M. Losos, J. Li, D. Hamad, L. Blower, M. Grevenow, J. Oakley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: Red blood cell (RBC) transfusion is associated with the most transfusion-related adverse events (AE). Recent clinical studies showed no significant difference in transfusion-associated mortality between fresh and older RBCs. However, the impact of storage duration as well as irradiation on nonfatal yet much more common complications has not been fully investigated. Materials/methods: In this retrospective study of RBC transfusion-associated AEs, a total of 188,562 units of leucocyte-reduced RBCs were transfused in approximately 5·5 years. After excluding washed, deglycerolized, autologous or directed RBCs and RBCs transfused during a massive transfusion protocol, 149,052 units were analysed. Attributes of RBCs including storage time, collection method, CMV serological status and gamma irradiation, as well as the recipient's gender, were analysed. A total of 358 RBC transfusion AEs were categorized into allergic and non-allergic reactions and analysed. Results: Univariate and multivariate logistic analyses showed that irradiated RBCs were associated with a significantly increased frequency of non-allergic reactions (OR (95% CI): 1·89 (1·52, 2·35); P < 0·001). There was a significant association between the frequency of non-allergic reactions and the storage time of irradiated RBCs (OR (95% CI): 1·024 (1·001, 1·048); P = 0·042). In contrast, there was no association between the frequency of allergic reactions and the storage time of irradiated RBCs or between the age of non-irradiated RBCs and the frequency of non-allergic reactions. Conclusions: Prolonged storage of irradiated RBCs was associated with a significant increase in non-allergic transfusion reactions. Overall, the irradiated RBCs appeared to cause more non-allergic reactions compared with non-irradiated RBCs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)468-475
Number of pages8
JournalVox Sanguinis
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2018


  • inflammation
  • irradiation
  • RBC transfusion
  • red cells
  • storage
  • transfusion reactions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology


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