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Blood. 2009 Jul 9;114(2):248-56. doi: 10.1182/blood-2008-11-146860. Epub 2009 May 1.

Red cell genotyping and the future of pretransfusion testing.

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  • 1Bristol Institute for Transfusion Sciences, National Health Service Blood and Transplant, Bristol, United Kingdom.


Over the past 20 years the molecular bases of almost all the major blood group antigens have been determined. This research has enabled development of DNA-based methods for determining blood group genotype. The most notable application of these DNA-based methods has been for determining fetal blood group in pregnancies when the fetus is at risk for hemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn. The replacement of all conventional serologic methods for pretransfusion testing by molecular methods is not straightforward. For the majority of transfusion recipients matching beyond ABO and D type is unnecessary, and the minority of untransfused patients at risk of alloimmunization who would benefit from more extensively blood group-matched blood cannot be identified reliably. Even if a method to identify persons most likely to make alloantibodies were available, this would not of itself guarantee the provision of extensively phenotype-matched blood for these patients because this is determined by the size and racial composition of blood donations available for transfusion. However, routine use of DNA-based extended phenotyping to provide optimally matched donations for patients with preexisting antibodies or patients with a known predisposition to alloimmunization, such as those with sickle cell disease, is widely used.

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