The Devil is in the Details: Three Antibody Panels for Illustration

As a Transfusion Medicine physician, I reviewed all antibody workups.  Here are three different panels, all appearing to be panreactive,  at AHG phase.  Note the differences:

  1. Autocontrol is positive, enzyme is panreactive and enhanced
  2. Autocontrol is negative, enzyme phase shows no reactions
  3. Autocontrol is negative, enzyme phase is panreactive enhanced

In the middle of the night, if I am called to select blood, I always keep these patterns first and foremost in my mind.

Case 1:

If the autocontrol is positive at about the same strength as the panreactivity.  I can state that this is probably a warm autoimmune pattern WAIHA (although I cannot rule out underlying clinically significant alloantibodies obscured by this pattern and need to do autologous auto-absorption ZZAP).  Both warm autoimmune antibodies and certain drug reactions may cause this pattern.  Use least-incompatible crossmatch matching any significant specificities you found by ZZAP and observe the patient closely throughout transfusion.

Case 2:

If the autocontrol is negative and all reactions are enzyme-labile—and if you live in the Middle East/Gulf region, then you have a presumptive anti-Ge2.  You can safely ignore this antibody and release least-incompatible crossmatch RBCs, regardless of the strength of the reactions.

Case 3:

If the autocontrol is negative and the reactions are unchanged or enhanced by enzyme, BE AFRAID, VERY AFRAID!!  This is an antibody to a high-incidence antigen.  These can be very dangerous.  In the Middle East/Gulf region, consider anti-H, anti-k (cellano), anti-Kpb, anti-PP1Pk, and rare antibodies to the MNSs such as anti-U or other MN system deletions.  There are many other possibilities, e.g. anti-Fy3.

You need to perform extended antigen typing across the major Rh antigen, Kell, Duffy, Kidd, MNSs, P systems (at least P1):

  1. Run H lectin to rule out Bombay Oh or Parabombay.
  2. Some Rh system deletions and Rh null show pan-Rh reactivity—check D, C, c, E, e typings.
  3. Anti-k (cellano) will be suggested by k-negative phenotype.
  4. Unusual, weak or absent reactions with M and N reagents suggest something like En(a)-negative or similar.
  5. Absent P1 with no other findings, you must rule out anti-Tja (anti-PP1Pk).

I have seen all of these specificities during my time in the Middle East.  All of these antibodies can be clinically significant and often life-threatening.