Signs and symptoms associated with the transfusion of WBC-reduced RBCs and non-WBC-reduced RBCs in patients with anemia and HIV infection: Results from the Viral Activation Transfusion Study

Thomas A. Lane, Terry Gernsheimer, Kala Mohandas, Susan F. Assmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: RBC transfusion is associated with fever and other reactions in some patients. The Viral Activation Transfusion Study randomly assigned patients to receive either unmodified or WBC-reduced RBCs and thus offered an opportunity to assess the effect of WBC-reduced RBCs on the incidence of transfusion reactions prospectively. STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: This prospective, randomized, double-blind, multicenter study compared prestorage WBC-reduced RBCs to unmodified RBCs in HIV-infected, CMV-seropositive, and transfusion-naive persons who required transfusions for anemia. Primary endpoints were survival and change in the plasma HIV RNA level at 7 days after transfusion. The incidence of transfusion reactions was prospectively evaluated. RESULTS: The two groups had similar baseline characteristics and study endpoints; 3864 RBC units (median storage age, 9 days) were administered to 531 patients during 1745 transfusions. The most frequent signs reported were elevated temperature and hypotension. Subjects who reported fever within the week prior to transfusion were more likely to have an elevation in temperature associated with transfusion. The administration of RBCs that were less than 10 days old was associated with a marginal increase in the incidence of transfusion-associated temperature elevation among recipients of unmodified RBCs, but not among recipients of WBC-reduced RBCs. Caregivers reported fewer instances of both elevated temperature and hypotension than were identified by review of transfusion records. CONCLUSIONS: The incidence of elevated temperature and hypotension associated with transfusion in this population was unexpectedly high. Use of WBC-reduced RBCs had no effect on the overall rates of elevated temperature or hypotension associated with transfusion of RBCs. The occurrence of a pre-existing fever was associated with a higher frequency of transfusion-associated elevated temperature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)265-274
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2002
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Hematology

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