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Transfus Apher Sci. 2008 Aug;39(1):75-82. doi: 10.1016/j.transci.2008.05.003. Epub 2008 Jul 3.

Pathogen reduction of blood components.

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  • 1Institute of Immunology, Rikshospitalet Medical Centre, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.


Thanks to many blood safety interventions introduced in developed countries the risk of transfusion transmitted infections has become exceedingly small in these countries. However, emerging pathogens still represent a serious challenge, as demonstrated by West Nile virus in the US and more recently by Chikungunya virus in the Indian Ocean. In addition bacterial contamination, particularly in platelets, and protozoa transmitted by blood components still represent sizeable risks in developed countries. In developing countries the risk of all transfusion transmitted infections is still high due to insufficient funding and organisation of the health service. Pathogen reduction of pooled plasma products has virtually eliminated the risk of transfusion transmitted infections, without compromising the quality of the products significantly. Pathogen reduction of blood components has been much more challenging. Solvent detergent treatment which has been so successfully applied for plasma products dissolves cell membranes, and can, therefore, only be applied for plasma and not for cellular blood components. Targeting of nucleic acids has been another method for pathogen inactivation of plasma and the only approach possible for cellular blood products. As documented in more than 15 year's track record, solvent detergent treatment of pooled plasma can yield high quality plasma. The increased risk for contamination by unknown viruses due to pooling is out weighed by elimination of TRALI, significant reduction in allergic reactions and standardisation of the product. Recently, a promising method for solvent detergent treatment of single donor plasma units has been published. Methylene blue light treatment of single donor plasma units has a similar long track record as pooled solvent detergent treated plasma; but the method is less well documented and affects coagulation factor activity more. Psoralen light treated plasma has only recently been introduced (CE marked in Europe, but not licensed by the FDA), while the method of Riboflavin light treatment of plasma still is under development. In addition to pathogen reduction the methods, however, result in some reduction of coagulation factor activity. For platelets only Psoralen and Riboflavin light treatment have been implemented. Both are CE marked products in Europe but only approved for clinical trials in the USA. The methods affect platelet activity, but result in clinically acceptable platelets with only slightly reduced CCI and increased demand for platelet transfusions. Pathogen reduction of red blood cells with FRALE (S-303) or INACTINE (PEN110) has so far resulted in the formation of antibodies against neo-epitopes on red blood cells. A promising method for Riboflavin treatment of red blood cells is under development. This manuscript reviews the current experience and discusses future trends.

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