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Transfusion. 1993 Nov-Dec;33(11):915-8.

Age dependency of ABO histo-blood group antibodies: reexamination of an old dogma.

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Central Laboratory of Hematology, University Hospital, Bern, Switzerland.


Current textbooks for transfusion medicine state that anti-A and/or anti-B (anti-A/B) agglutination titers--and thus the respective antibody concentrations--reach their maximum in individuals 5 to 10 years old and then gradually decline with the increasing age of the individual. This statement is largely based on a study by Thomsen and Kettel that dates to 1929. In the present article, ABO antibodies in sera of 175 healthy persons aged 61 to 97 years, as well as sera of 170 newborn infants and children aged 0 to 17 years, were analyzed. Microhemagglutination tests were performed with all sera and complemented by ABO enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays to measure the immunoglobulin class (IgM, IgG, and IgA) of the anti-A/B. As in a previous study using sera of persons aged 20 to 67 years, individual differences exceeded age-related changes for all variables. Median values of IgG and IgA anti-A/B were elevated in elderly persons of blood group O, whereas no significant changes were observed in other variables. In particular, the decrease in agglutination titers with the increasing age of the individuals was far less pronounced than previously described; even in sera of persons aged 90 to 97 years, median agglutination titers of 128 were found. Results in the sera of children confirm previously reported data that agglutination titers and IgM anti-A/B reached adult levels at the age of 5 to 10 years.

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