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Bone Marrow Transplant. 2002 Jul;30(2):87-93.

Consequences of ABO incompatibility in allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.

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Department of Internal Medicine, University Hospital of Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland.


Aside from causing hemolytic reactions the ABO blood group system does not have an impact on outcome after allogeneic bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cell transplantation (SCT). However, only a few studies have addressed the effect of ABO incompatibility on the incidence of GVHD, time to engraftment, relapse and survival. Therefore, we performed a retrospective two-center analysis of 562 consecutive patients receiving allogeneic SCT, including 361 ABO-identical, 98 minor, 86 major and 17 bidirectional ABO-incompatible SCT. In multivariate analysis adjusted for potential confounders survival was significantly associated with ABO incompatibility (P = 0.006). Compared to ABO-identical SCT, bidirectional ABO incompatibility increased the risk significantly (RR, 2.8; 95% CI, 1.5-5.1; P = 0.0009), whereas survival of patients with minor (RR, 1.2; 95% CI, 0.9-1.7; P = 0.27), or major ABO-incompatible SCT (RR, 1.3; 95% CI, 0.9-1.8; P= 0.18) was not significantly different. RBC engraftment was delayed in major ABO-incompatible SCT (RR, 0.66; 95% CI, 0.51-0.85; P = 0.001). The incidence of acute GVHD (grade I-IV) was higher in minor ABO-incompatible SCT as compared to ABO identity (RR, 2.8; 95% CI, 1.3-5.9, P = 0.009). This difference was limited to mild GVHD; in moderate-to-severe GVHD (grade II-IV) no significant difference was found among the groups (P = 0.53). The relapse rate was not influenced by ABO incompatibility (P = 0.78). In conclusion, these results suggest that ABO incompatibility represents a risk factor not only for post-transplant hemolysis, but also for survival and the rate of mild GVHD after allogeneic SCT.

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