Platelet proteins cause basophil histamine release through an immunoglobulin-dependent mechanism

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A general understanding of allergic transfusion reaction mechanisms remains elusive. Multiple mechanisms have been proposed, but none have been compared experimentally.


We used histamine release (HR) from healthy human donor basophils to model allergic transfusion reactions. Platelet component supernatant (plasma), platelet lysate, and manipulated platelet lysates (dialyzed, delipidated, trypsinized, mild heat-inactivated, and ultracentrifuged) were used to characterize allergic stimuli. Immunoglobulin-dependent mechanisms were investigated through cell surface immunoglobulin depletion and ibrutinib signaling inhibition. HR induced by platelet mitochondria was compared with HR by platelet lysate with or without DNase treatment.


Robust, dose-responsive HR to platelet lysate was observed in two of eight nulliparous, never-transfused, healthy donors. No HR was observed with plasma. Among manipulated platelet lysates, only trypsin treatment significantly reduced HR (39% reduction; p = 0.008). HR in response to platelet lysate significantly decreased with either cell surface immunoglobulin depletion or ibrutinib pretreatment. Platelet mitochondria induced minimal basophil HR, and DNase treatment did not inhibit platelet lysate-induced HR.


Type I immediate hypersensitivity to platelet proteins may be an allergic transfusion reaction mechanism. Prior sensitization to human proteins is not required for basophil responses to platelet proteins. Further study into the relative contributions of hypersensitivity to platelet versus plasma proteins in transfusion is warranted.

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