[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: A prospective, 1-year study was performed among Italian first-time, volunteer blood donors, who account for 12% of all donations, in order to assess the frequency and serological patterns of hepatitis B virus infection and the presence of occult infection. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Consecutive donors (n=31,190) from 21 blood transfusion centres, from age classes not subjected to universal HBV vaccination, were tested for HBsAg and anti-HBc by commercial immunoassays. Other HBV serological markers were searched for and qualitative and quantitative assessments of HBV-DNA were made in HBsAg and/or anti-HBc-positive individuals. RESULTS: Of the 31,190 donors studied, 100 (0.32%) were positive for both HBsAg and anti-HBc, 2 for HBsAg (0.01%) alone, and 2,593 (8.3%) for anti-HBc. Of these last, 86.7% were also positive for anti-HBs (with or without anti-HBe), 2.9% were positive for anti-HBe without anti-HBs and 10.4% had no other HBV markers (anti-HBc alone). A general north-south increasing gradient of HBV prevalence was observed. Circulating HBV-DNA was found in 96.8% of HBsAg-positive subjects as compared to 0.55% (12/2,186) of anti-HBc-positive/HBsAg-negative subjects, with higher frequencies among anti-HBs-negative than among anti-HBs-positive ones (1.68% vs 0.37%; p <0.01) and among the 57 cases positive for both anti-HBc and anti-HBe (7%). HBV-DNA levels were significantly higher in HBsAg-positive subjects than in HBsAg-negative ones (median: 456 IU/mL vs 38 IU/mL). CONCLUSIONS: The prevalence of HBV infection among Italian first-time blood donors is much lower than in the past. The presence of occult infections in this group was confirmed (frequency: 1 in 2,599), supporting the hypothesis of long-term persistence of HBV infection after clearance of HBsAg. HBsAg and nucleic acid amplification testing for blood screening and vaccination against HBV are crucial in order to further reduce the risk of transfusion-transmitted HBV towards zero.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Transfusion-related acute lung injury (TRALI) is the leading cause of transfusion-associated mortality. Antibodies against human leucocyte antigens (HLA) and human neutrophil antigens (HNA) are often detected in the implicated donors. We investigated the incidence and aetiology of TRALI in Lombardy. Moreover, we determined the rate of HLA and HNA alloimmunisation and the HNA genotype in a cohort of local blood donors.
During a 2-year observational study in eight blood transfusion services, suspected TRALI cases were collected and characterised by means of HLA and HNA antibody screening of implicated donors, donor/recipient cross-matching and HLA/HNA molecular typing. In addition, 406 Italian donors were evaluated for alloimmunisation and in 102 of them HNA gene frequencies were determined.
Eleven cases were referred to the central laboratory, of whom three were diagnosed as having TRALI, seven as having possible TRALI and one as having transfusion-associated circulatory overload. Seven TRALI cases were immune-mediated whereas in three we did not find either alloantibodies in implicated donors or a positive reaction in the cross-match. The most frequently implicated blood component was red blood cells (in 5 males and in 1 female), whereas four cases of TRALI were associated with transfusion of fresh-frozen plasma (in 3 females and in 1 male). The frequency of reported TRALI/possible TRALI cases was 1:82,000 for red blood cells and 1:22,500 for fresh-frozen plasma. No cases were observed for platelets. Overall, the frequency of HLA or HNA alloimmunisation in blood donors was 29% for females and 7% for males. The latter could be related, at least in part, to natural antibodies. HNA gene frequencies showed that HNA-1b is more frequent than HNA-1a in our sample of donors.
The recently adopted national policy to prevent TRALI, i.e. using only plasma donated by males, would have had a positive impact in our setting.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Selecting units of rare blood for transfusion to patients with complex immunisation is one of the most critical processes of a Transfusion Centre. In January 2005 the 'Rare Blood Components Bank - Reference Centre of the Region of Lombardy' w as established with the following goals: 1) identifying regional rare blood donors; 2) creating a regional registry of rare donors; 3) organising a regional bank of liquid and frozen rare blood units; 4) setting up a regional Immunohaematology Reference Laboratory (IRL) to type donors and resolve complex cases.
The key elements in establishing the Bank were periodic meetings organised by the directors and representatives of the regional Departments of Transfusion Medicine and Haematology (DTMH) and the institution of three working groups (informatics, regulations, finance).
The regional IRL was set up, the relevant operating procedures were distributed region-wide, software features were defined and later validated upon activation, and the funds assigned were allocated to various cost items. The number and characteristics of the donors to be typed were identified and 14 regional DTMHs started to send samples. Overall, 20,714 donors were typed, for a total of 258,003 typings, and 2,880 rare donors were identified. Of these, 97% were rare donors because of combinations of antigens (2,139 negative for the S antigen and 659 negative for the s antigen) and 3% (n=82) because they were negative for high-frequency antigens. In the first 2 years of activity, the IRL carried out investigations of 140 complex cases referred from other Centres and distributed 2,024 units with rare phenotypes to 142 patients.
The main goal achieved in the first 24 months from the start of the project was to set up a regional network able to meet the transfusion needs of patients with complex immunisation.