Redefining transfusion-related acute lung injury: don't throw the baby out with the bathwater

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Recently two articles have been published in TRANSFUSION in which the authors propose to change the current definition on transfusion-related acute lung injury (TRALI). It was proposed to view TRALI from the perspective of detectability versus nondetectability of leukoreactive alloantibodies (Transfusion 2015;55:1128-34). The authors argue that only cases in which leukoreactive alloantibodies can be detected should be defined as “true” TRALI in analogy with the understanding of the pathophysiology of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia. In the other article (Transfusion 2015;55:947-52), the authors propose to redefine possible TRALI to transfused acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) as their study in intensive care unit patients did not show a relation between the number of transfusions and possible TRALI.We discuss these two propositions in light of the current evidence on pathophysiology of TRALI and possible TRALI. We argue that it is too early to redefine TRALI, as 1) factors, such as storage time of platelets, which induce TRALI in preclinical studies, have not yet been properly investigated in humans. Further research is needed on these agents before it is concluded that antibody-mediated TRALI is the only “true” TRALI. 2) In light of the current knowledge, it makes perfect sense that multiple transfusion is not related to possible TRALI: ARDS risk factors in these patients result in a very sensitive equilibrium in which even only one transfusion induces TRALI. Excluding possible TRALI from the TRALI definition would result in further underrecognition of TRALI induced by alloantibodies and interferes with exclusion of donors related to TRALI cases and thus TRALI prevention.

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