The only accepted way to avoid transfusion-associated graft-versus-host disease is irradiation of blood components. With respect to irradiation and associated storage time, different recommendations exist. We examined early irradiated (day +3) leucoreduced red blood cell units for irradiation-associated damages during storage.Study Design and Methods
We studied 80 leucoreduced units from two manufacturers. All RBCs were stored in the additive solution saline-adenine-glucose-mannitol (SAG-M) and leucoreduced on collection day. Forty components were irradiated on day +3 with 30 Gy, 40 served as non-irradiated controls. Samples were drawn and analysed from these 80 units on days +3, +7, +14, +21, +28, +35 and +42.Results
From day +14, there was a significant difference in the in vitro haemolysis rate between the non-irradiated and the irradiated components. Two of the irradiated units showed a haemolysis rate over the recommended limit of 0·8% on day +42. Potassium and lactate dehydrogenase activity increased faster in irradiated groups during storage.Conclusions
Our findings show that leucoreduced RBCs which are irradiated early after collection show an obvious radiation damage over storage period. Interestingly, on days +28, +35 and +42 the quality of RBCs which were irradiated on day +3 was nearly identical to the quality of RBCs which were irradiated on day +14 in a former series. Early irradiation does not cause more damage of RBCs during subsequent storage than irradiation on day +14. The maximum storage period of irradiated RBCs should remain restricted to 28 days from collection, however independently from the day of irradiation within this period.