Long-term follow-up patients with leukemia receiving platelet transfusions: identification of a large group of patients who do not become alloimmunized

JP Dutcher, CA Schiffer, J Aisner and PH Wiernik


Alloimmunization is the major complication of platelet transfusion therapy in patients with acute leukemia. To evaluate whether alloimmunization continues to be a long-term problem in patients surviving induction therapy, 114 patients with acute nonlymphocytic leukemia (ANLL) who survived more than 6 mo and who received multiple courses of chemotherapy and abundant platelet transfusions were studied. Clinical response to random donor platelets and lymphocytotoxic antibody (LCTAb) were measured pretreatment and serially throughout the study period. Fourteen patients (12%) were alloimmunized upon admission, 34 (30%) patients became alloimmunized during remission induction therapy, and 66 (58%) patients did not become alloimmunized during that period. Sixty-one of these 66 patients (92%) never became alloimmunized and responded to random donor platelets during their subsequent course despite the fact they received multiple further platelet transfusions, whereas the alloimmunized patients tended to remain alloimmunized for their entire clinical course. There was no difference in age or sex between groups, and prognostic factors predicting alloimmunization could not be detected. In greater than 90% of patients not alloimmunized at admission, the presence or absence of LCTAb after induction predicts later alloantibody production. This information can be used to plan the type of platelet transfusions (HLA-matched or random donor) needed for subsequent maintenance and induction therapy. It may also help to identify a group of patients to whom more aggressive maintenance chemotherapy may be more safely administered.