Transfusion-associated microchimerism: The hybrid within

Evan M. Bloch, Rachael P. Jackman, Tzong Hae Lee, Michael P. Busch

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Microchimerism, the coexistence of genetically disparate populations of cells in a receptive host, is well described in both clinical and physiological settings, including transplantation and pregnancy. Microchimerism can also occur after allogeneic blood transfusion in traumatically injured patients, where donor cells have been observed decades after transfusion. To date, transfusion-associated microchimerism (TA-MC) appears confined to this clinical subset, most likely due to the immune perturbations that occur after severe trauma that allow foreign donor cells to survive. Transfusion-associated microchimerism appears to be unaffected by leukoreduction and has been documented after transfusion with an array of blood products. The only significant predictor of TA-MC to date is the age of red cells, with fresher units associated with higher risk. Thus far, no adverse clinical effect has been observed in limited studies of TA-MC. There are, however, hypothesized links to transfusion-associated graft vs host disease that may be unrecognized and consequently underreported. Microchimerism in other settings has gained increasing attention owing to a plausible link to autoimmune diseases, as well as its diagnostic and therapeutic potential vis-a-vis antenatal testing and adoptive immunotherapy, respectively. Furthermore, microchimerism provides a tool to further our understanding of immune tolerance and regulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10-20
Number of pages11
JournalTransfusion medicine reviews
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


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