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J Clin Invest. 1971 Sep;50(9):1840-6.

The significance of erythrocyte antigen site density. II. Hemolysis.


The importance of antigen site density has been studied by means of a model passive hemolysis system using red cells coupled with sulfanilic acid groups. Relative site numbers were estimated from the covalent linkage of sulfanilic acid-(35)S to red cell membrane protein, and the effective antigen site number was determined with (125)I-labeled rabbit IgG anti-sulfanilic acid (anti-S). Immune hemolysis was demonstrated for red cells which had greater than a threshold number of antigen sites, the value of which was different for normal human cells (80,000 sites/cell), cells from a patient with paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) (40,000 sites/cell), and sheep red blood cells (RBC) (15,000 sites/cell). Cells with antigen site densities below these values did not hemolyze when tested with 1 mg/ml purified rabbit IgM anti-S. 2-8 times greater antigen site densities were required to obtain hemolysis with IgG anti-S. Above the threshold value, hemolysis titers were proportional to the antigen site number until maximal values were obtained. The greater hemolytic efficiency of IgM antibody was demonstrated in this system, and it was established that the magnitude of the difference was related to the test cell antigen site density. These data, taken with previously reported hemagglutination studies, have been used to develop a general classification of immune hemolysis and hemagglutination based on antigen site density and antibody class. It is suggested that the heterogeneity of blood group systems is caused by differences in the site separation of erythrocyte membrane antigens.

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