Red blood cell (RBC) storage in blood banks is not exempt from cellular injury. Alterations not observed on RBCs freshly isolated from units can rapidly appear in circulation. The transfusion of old blood units, even if this is a controversial issue, could therefore have adverse effects on the recipient. We wanted to determine the respective effects of storage duration and recipient plasma on RBCs for transfusion into patients with severe sepsis.STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS:
Eleven stored RBC units were sampled at various time points, approximately Days 3 to 8 (referred to as fresh RBCs) and Days 38 to 42 (old RBCs) and tested in coincubation experiments with plasma obtained from 13 patients with severe sepsis and 17 healthy donors as controls. RBCs were tested after 24 or 48 hours at 37°C for the detection of senescence markers (phosphatidylserine exposure, calcium influx, and reactive oxygen species detection and decrease in size) with or without exposure to plasma.RESULTS:
We confirmed that a 42-day refrigerated storage of RBCs alone (without any incubation in plasma) had no significant effect on RBCs and no senescence marker detected. By contrast, ex vivo exposure to plasma samples altered both fresh and old RBCs, with a much larger effect for old RBCs, regardless of the plasma used (sepsis vs. control).CONCLUSION:
We show that the main factor affecting the senescence of RBCs for transfusion into patients with severe sepsis is the age of the stored units rather than the clinical status of the recipient.