Transfusion not always best treatment for anemia, age of stored blood may play a role

October 12, 2011

University of Kentucky researchers, including lead author Samy Selim of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine and the Saha Cardiovascular Research Center, have recently published a paper suggesting that transfusion may not always be the best treatment for hospitalized patients with anemia. Results suggest the age of stored blood may be a factor in negative effects of transfusion.

The paper, " of sphingosine l-phosphate are strongly correlated with haemotocrit, but variably restored by transfusions," appeared in a recent edition of the journal Clinical Science.

For many years, the traditional treatment for hospitalized patients in the United States who have developed anemia — whether associated with medical illness, surgical procedures or trauma — has been red blood cell transfusion, despite the absence of supporting data in many patient populations.

While still a life-saving measure in emergency situations such as acute bleeding, emerging evidence suggests that transfusions may, in fact, be associated with risk beyond commonly-held concerns of microbial transmission and acute reactions. Researchers are currently trying to understand the mechanism behind this observed deleterious effect of transfusion, which seems to correlate with the duration of storage of blood (blood for transfusion may currently be stored up to 42 days).

Red blood cells carry and deliver an important biologically active lipid mediator, sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P), which is required for maintaining the integrity of blood vessels.

In the study, investigators confirmed that individuals with anemia have lower circulating levels of S1P. They found that transfusion to correct does not always restore levels of S1P and the inability to restore S1P may be associated with the age of the transfused blood. Levels of S1P decrease during storage of red blood cells, which may explain why transfusion of older blood is less able to restore S1P levels.

These findings could help to explain some of the reasons that blood transfusions can have adverse consequences. Future efforts may focus on supplementing red blood cells with S1P in an attempt to improve outcomes in .

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Experimental MERS vaccine shows promise in animal studies

July 28, 2015

A two-step regimen of experimental vaccines against Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) prompted immune responses in mice and rhesus macaques, report National Institutes of Health scientists who designed the vaccines. ...

Can social isolation fuel epidemics?

July 21, 2015

Conventional wisdom has it that the more people stay within their own social groups and avoid others, the less likely it is small disease outbreaks turn into full-blown epidemics. But the conventional wisdom is wrong, according ...

Lack of knowledge on animal disease leaves humans at risk

July 20, 2015

Researchers from the University of Sydney have painted the most detailed picture to date of major infectious diseases shared between wildlife and livestock, and found a huge gap in knowledge about diseases which could spread ...

IBD genetically similar in Europeans and non-Europeans

July 20, 2015

The first genetic study of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) to include individuals from diverse populations has shown that the regions of the genome underlying the disease are consistent around the world. This study, conducted ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.