Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
N Engl J Med. 1998 Mar 19;338(12):798-803.

Inhibition of erythroid progenitor cells by anti-Kell antibodies in fetal alloimmune anemia.

Author information

Department of Obstetrics, Institute of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Queen Charlotte's Hospital, London, United Kingdom.



In alloimmune anemia of the newborn, the level of hemolysis caused by the presence of antibodies to antigens of the Kell blood-group system is less than that caused by antibodies to the D antigen of the Rh blood-group system, and the numbers of reticulocytes and normoblasts in the baby's circulation are inappropriately low for the degree of anemia. These findings suggest that sensitization to Kell antigens results in suppression of fetal erythropoiesis as well as hemolysis.


We compared the growth in vitro of Kell-positive and Kell-negative hematopoietic progenitor cells from cord blood in the presence of human monoclonal anti-Kell antibodies and anti-D antibodies and serum from women with anti-Kell antibodies.


The growth of Kell-positive erythroid progenitor cells (erythroid burst-forming units and colony-forming units) from cord blood was markedly inhibited by monoclonal IgG and IgM anti-Kell antibodies in a dose-dependent fashion (range of concentrations, 0.2 to 20 percent), but monoclonal anti-D antibodies had no effect. The growth of these types of cells from Kell-negative cord blood was not affected by either type of antibody. Neither monoclonal anti-Kell antibodies nor monoclonal anti-D antibodies inhibited the growth of granulocyte or megakaryocyte progenitor cells from cord blood. Serum from 22 women with anti-Kell antibodies inhibited the growth of Kell-positive erythroid burst-forming units and colony-forming units but not of Kell-negative erythroid burst-forming units and colony-forming units (P<0.001 for the difference between groups). The maternal anti-Kell antibodies had no inhibitory effects on granulocyte-macrophage or mega-karyocyte progenitor cells from cord blood.


Anti-Kell antibodies specifically inhibit the growth of Kell-positive erythroid burst-forming units and colony-forming units, a finding that supports the hypothesis that these antibodies cause fetal anemia by suppressing erythropoiesis at the progenitor-cell level.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Atypon
    Loading ...
    Support Center