Send to

Choose Destination
Transfusion. 2014 Nov;54(11):2842-51. doi: 10.1111/trf.12712. Epub 2014 May 19.

Transfusion of stored blood impairs host defenses against Gram-negative pathogens in mice.

Author information

Institute of Comparative Medicine, Columbia University Medical Center-New York Presbyterian Hospital, New York, New York; Department of Pathology and Cell Biology, Columbia University Medical Center-New York Presbyterian Hospital, New York, New York.



Although human red blood cell (RBC) units may be refrigerator stored for up to 42 days, transfusion of older RBCs acutely delivers a large bolus of iron to mononuclear phagocytes. Similarly, iron dextran circulates in plasma for hours to days and is progressively cleared by mononuclear phagocytes, which return iron to plasma. Finally, malaria infection continuously delivers iron to macrophages by intra- and extravascular hemolysis. Studies suggest that iron administration increases infectious risk.


To assess the effects of increased iron availability on susceptibility to infection, we infected mice with model Gram-negative intracellular or extracellular pathogens (Salmonella typhimurium or Escherichia coli, respectively), accompanied by RBC transfusion, iron dextran administration, or malarial coinfection.


In our mouse models, transfusion of older RBCs exacerbates infection with both Gram-negative pathogens. Although iron dextran exacerbates E. coli infection to a similar extent as transfusion of corresponding amounts of iron, higher iron doses are required to produce comparable effects with S. typhimurium. Coinfection of mice with Plasmodium yoelii and S. typhimurium produces overwhelming Salmonella sepsis. Finally, treating mice with antibiotics abrogates the enhancing effect on E. coli infection of both older RBC transfusion and iron dextran administration.


Transfusion of older RBCs exacerbates Gram-negative infection to a similar extent as malaria coinfection or iron dextran administration. Appropriate antibiotic therapy abrogates the effect of older RBC transfusions on infection with E. coli. Iron delivery to macrophages may be an underappreciated mechanism mediating, at least some, adverse effects of RBC transfusions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center