Many different factors influence the propensity of transfusion recipients and pregnant women to form red blood cell alloantibodies (RBCA). RBCA may cause hemolytic transfusion reactions, hemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn and may be a complication in transplantation medicine. Antigenic differences between responder and foreign erythrocytes may lead to such an immune answer, in part with suspected specific HLA class II associations. Biochemical and conformational characteristics of red blood cell (RBC) antigens, their dose (number of transfusions and pregnancies, absolute number of antigens per RBC) and the mode of exposure impact on RBCA rates. In addition, individual circumstances determine the risk to form RBCA. Responder individuality in terms of age, sex, severity of underlying disease, disease- or therapy-induced immunosuppression and inflammation are discussed with respect to influencing RBC alloimmunization. For particular high-risk patients, extended phenotype matching of transfusion and recipient efficiently decreases RBCA induction and associated clinical risks.
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