Transfusion of 35-Day Stored RBCs in the Presence of Endotoxemia Does Not Result in Lung Injury in Humans*

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Transfusion-related acute lung injury is the leading cause of transfusion-related mortality. Preclinical studies have shown that aged RBCs can induce transfusion-related acute lung injury in the presence of a “first hit” (e.g., sepsis). Clinical studies, however, show conflicting results on this matter. We tested whether maximally stored RBCs are able to induce lung injury in the presence of a “first hit” in humans (Dutch Trial Register: NTR4455).


Open-label, randomized controlled trial.


Healthy male volunteers.


Eighteen healthy male volunteers donated one unit of autologous RBCs 2 or 35 days before the experiment. The experiment was started by infusion of 2 ng/kg lipopolysaccharide (“first hit”). After 2 hours, volunteers received normal saline (n = 6), 2-day stored transfusion (n = 6), or 35-day stored transfusion (n = 6) (“second hit”). Blood was sampled hourly. Six hours after transfusion, the diffusion capacity of the lungs for carbon monoxide was tested and volunteers underwent spirometry, chest x-ray study, and a bronchoalveolar lavage.

Measurements and Main Results:

All volunteers fulfilled sepsis criteria after lipopolysaccharide injection. The stored blood transfusion did not result in significant changes in either hemodynamic or respiratory variables compared with the control groups. Furthermore, chest x-rays, lung function, and PaO2/FIO2 ratios did not differ between groups. Transfusion of stored autologous RBCs did not result in an increased level of protein in the lungs or neutrophil influx.


Transfusion of 35-day stored autologous RBCs in the presence of endotoxemia does not result in lung injury in humans.

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