Guidelines on the clinical use of leucocyte-depleted blood components

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Leucocyte-depleted blood components must contain < 5 × 106 leucocytes per unit (red cells) or adult therapeutic dose (platelets).

Practical aspects:

To achieve residual leucocyte counts of < 5 × 106, leucocyte-depletion should be carried out under controlled conditions, ideally within 48 h from the collection of the donor unit. The preparation of leucocyte-depleted blood components should be subject to a quality monitoring programme designed to assure 100% compliance.

Indications for leucocyte-depleted blood components


Reducing graft rejection after haemopoietic cell transplantation:

Patients with severe aplastic anaemia who are potential haemopoietic cell transplant recipients should receive leucocyte-depleted blood components from the beginning of transfusion support. The same might apply to patients with haemoglobinopathies, but more evidence is required before a definite recommendation can be made.

Prevention of transmission of viral infections by blood transfusion:

Leucocyte-depletion of blood components is an effective alternative to the use of CMV-seronegative blood components for the prevention of transfusion-transmitted CMV infection to at-risk patients.

Fetal/neonatal transfusions:

Leucocyte-depleted blood components should be used for intrauterine transfusions and for all transfusions to infants below 1 year of age.

Fetal/neonatal transfusions:


Platelet refractoriness:

There is currently no convincing evidence that routine leucocyte-depletion of blood components produces clinical benefits for patients receiving multiple platelet transfusions, although HLA alloimmunization and platelet refractoriness are reduced.

Kidney transplants:

Pretransplant blood transfusion may confer some benefit to renal transplant recipients, although some patients will become alloimmunized leading to difficulties in the selection of donor kidneys. Consideration should be given to the leucocyte-depletion of transfusions to renal transplant patients to prevent HLA alloimmunization unless they are part of a deliberate pretransplant immunosuppression protocol.


There is insufficient evidence to recommend the routine use of leucocyte-depleted blood components for surgical patients for the prevention of either post-operative infection or tumour recurrence.

Progression of HIV infection:

There is insufficient evidence to recommend the use of leucocyte-depleted blood components for reducing the progression of HIV infection.

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