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Vox Sang. 1994;66(3):200-5.

Relative importance of immune and non-immune causes of platelet refractoriness.

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Department of Haematology, St. Bartholomew's Hospital and Medical College, London, UK.


In this prospective study, 26 consecutive patients being treated for haematological malignancies receiving standard (i.e. non-leucocyte-depleted) blood components were observed for the development of refractoriness to platelet transfusions. One hundred and sixteen of the 266 (44%) platelet transfusions failed to produce a satisfactory response. In 102/116 (88%), the poor response was in the presence of non-immune factors known to be associated with platelet refractoriness. Non-immune factors were present alone in 78/116 (67%), and in combination with immune factors in a further 24/116 (21%). Immune factors (HLA and platelet-specific antibodies) were present during 29/116 (25%) of unsuccessful platelet transfusions. Statistical analysis confirmed that platelet refractoriness was significantly associated with the presence of non-immune factors. The non-immune factors associated with refractoriness were often multiple, most frequently a combination of fever, infection and antibiotic therapy. This study provides evidence that immune mechanisms were not the predominant cause of platelet refractoriness in the patient population studied. It also suggests that measures for the prevention of HLA alloimmunisation, such as leucocyte depletion, may have a limited impact in reducing the incidence of refractoriness to platelet transfusions.

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