Blood Groups and Transfusion Science

Abstract

Determination of blood group antigens is an integral part of safe blood transfusion and the management of pregnancy. The antigens are carried on proteins, glycoproteins and glycolipids on the surface of erythrocytes and, thus, can elicit an immune response in a recipient who has a different profile of antigens (only identical twins will have erythrocytes with the same profile). Traditionally, haemagglutination has been used to determine blood group antigen profiles on erythrocytes and to detect and identify blood group antibodies. In current transfusion medicine practice, haemagglutination and deoxyribonucleic acid testing are adjuncts. There are 36 blood group systems that harbour 308 antigens. Blood group antigens and antibodies are clinically important in blood transfusion, maternofoetal blood group incompatibility, autoimmune haemolytic anaemia and organ transplants.

Key Concepts

  • Blood group antigens are carried on proteins, glycoproteins and glycolipids on the surface of erythrocytes.
  • Blood group antigens can elicit an immune response in a recipient who has a different profile of antigens.
  • Blood group antibodies are important in blood transfusion, maternofoetal blood group incompatibility, autoimmune haemolytic anaemia and organ transplants.
  • The determination of blood group antigen profiles and the detection and identification of blood group antibodies is achieved by a combination of haemagglutination and DNA testing.
  • A group of antigens encoded by alleles at a single gene locus or at gene loci so closely linked that crossing over does not occur or is very rare, constitute a blood group system.
  • ABO grouping is the single most important test performed in the transfusion service because it is the fundamental basis for determining blood compatibility.
  • Immune antibodies most often are IgG but may be IgM; they mostly react at body temperature (37°C) and most are considered clinically significant.

Keywords: blood group antigens and transfusion; ABO and Rh blood groups; RBC alloantibodies; RBC antigens; compatibility testing; DNA testing for blood groups

References

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Further Reading

Daniels G (2013) Human Blood Groups, 3rd edn. Oxford: Blackwell Science.

Fung M (2014) Technical Manual, 18th edn. Bethesda, MD: American Association of Blood Banks.

Issitt PD and Anstee DJ (1998) Applied Blood Group Serology. Durham, NC: Montgomery Scientific.

Klein HG and Anstee DJ (2005) Mollison's Blood Transfusion in Clinical Medicine, 11th edn. Oxford: Blackwell Science.

Reid ME, Lomas‐Francis C and Olsson ML (2012) Blood Group Antigen FactsBook, 3rd edn. San Diego: Academic Press.

Reid ME and Lomas‐Francis C (2016) Erythrocyte antigens and antibodies. In: Kaushansky K, Lichtman M, Prchal J, et al. (eds) Williams Hematology, 9th, chap. 136 edn. New York: McGraw Hill Education.

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How to Cite close
Reid, Marion E, and Lomas‐Francis, Christine(Nov 2016) Blood Groups and Transfusion Science. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0001230.pub3]