A Retrospective Cohort Study of Red Cell Alloimmunisation in Rural, Remote, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Admitted to Intensive Care in the Northern Territory, Australia

Tina Noutsos, Maree A. Perry, Paul J. Secombe, David J. Roxby, Romi Sinha, Lewis T. Campbell

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Abstract

Red cell (RC) alloantibodies occur on exposure to non-self RC antigens in transfusion and pregnancy (typically IgG and clinically significant) or in association with non-RC immune environmental factors (typically IgM and not clinically significant). In Australia, the risk of RC alloimmunisation in First Nations peoples is unknown. We assessed the epidemiology, specificity, and antecedents of RC alloimmunisation via a data linkage retrospective cohort study of Northern Territory (NT) intensive care unit (ICU) patients (2015–2019). Of 4183 total patients, 50.9% were First Nations. In First Nations versus non-First Nations patients, the period prevalence of alloimmunisation was 10.9% versus 2.3%, with 390 versus 72 prevalent alloantibodies detected in 232 versus 48 alloimmunised patients, of which 135 (34.6%) versus 52 (72.2%) were clinically significant specificities. Baseline and follow-up alloantibody testing were available for 1367 patients, in whom new incident clinically significant alloantibodies developed in 4.5% First Nations versus 1.1% non-First Nations patients. On Cox proportional hazards modelling, adjusted hazard ratios (HR) showed First Nations status (HR 2.67 (95% CI 1.05–6.80), p = 0.04) and cumulative RC unit transfusion exposure (HR 1.03 (95% CI 1.01–1.05), p = 0.01) were independent predictors of clinically significant alloimmunisation. First Nations Australian patients are at increased risk of alloimmunisation due to RC transfusion, underscoring the importance of very judicious use of RC transfusions and shared decision-making with patients. Further studies are recommended to explore the role of other (non-RC) immune host factors, given the relative high prevalence of non-clinically significant IgM alloantibodies within alloimmunised First Nations patients.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1606
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Volume12
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 8 Feb 2023

Keywords

  • Aboriginal Australians
  • Aboriginal health
  • alloantibodies
  • blood transfusion
  • erythrocyte transfusion
  • immunohematology
  • transfusion medicine

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