Metabolic effects occurring in irradiated and non-irradiated red blood cellular components for clinical transfusion practice: An in vitro comparison.

12 Apr 2019

BACKGROUND: Storage lesions occur in red blood cell products when potassium ions, haemoglobin and lactate dehydrogenase are released into the extracellular plasma due to post-irradiation storage or cellular degeneration. The South African blood transfusion establishments do not comply with the universal leucocyte-reduction policy due to cost and the current HIV pandemic. Various studies regarding storage lesions have been completed in well-developed countries but not in Cape Town, South Africa. OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to determine cellular degeneration occurring in non-irradiated and irradiated red blood cells (RBC) by comparing the measured biochemical and haematological indices during storage of up to 42 days. METHOD: Eighty whole blood units were collected from voluntary, non-remunerated donors. Blood components tested weekly until expiry were whole blood, RBC concentrate, leucocyte-reduced RBC concentrate (pre-storage) and paediatric RBC concentrate (n = 20). Ten units per product were irradiated and 10 were not. Evaluations included potassium, sodium, glucose, lactate dehydrogenase, phosphate, haemoglobin, haematocrit, mean corpuscular haemoglobin, mean corpuscular haemoglobin concentrate, mean cell volume and plasma haemoglobin. Plasma haemolysis levels were calculated using an approved formula. RESULTS: The haemolysis levels evaluated on Day 35 and Day 42 were higher than the recommended 0.8%, whereas results for the non-irradiated components up to expiry were all below 0.8%. CONCLUSION: This study confirms that gamma irradiation aggravates the RBC storage lesions. The products tested yielded similar results to other studies in developed countries, however the South Africa transfusion medicine policy should remain unchanged.