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R-FACT Study:Risk Factors for Alloimmunization After Red Blood Cell Transfusions

The recruitment status of this study is unknown because the information has not been verified recently.
Verified June 2012 by Sanquin Research & Blood Bank Divisions.
Recruitment status was  Recruiting
Leiden University Medical Center
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
Sanquin Research & Blood Bank Divisions Identifier:
First received: March 16, 2012
Last updated: June 7, 2012
Last verified: June 2012

Alloantibodies can lead to serious clinical consequences and logistic problems like obtaining properly and timely matched blood for the patients who do develop these antibodies. Prevention of such serious events is possible by extended matching and typing of donor's blood against the patient's for all the possible antigens, but this process is cumbersome and costly. Identifying a high risk group will be a feasible first target for advanced matching a big step forward, and the aim of the investigators study. The aim of the project is to examine the association between clinical, environmental and genetic characteristics of the recipient of erythrocyte transfusions and the risk or resistance to immunization against erythrocyte alloantigens that he/she was exposed to during that transfusion episode.

Alloimmunization to Transfused Red Blood Cell Antigens

Study Type: Observational
Study Design: Time Perspective: Retrospective
Official Title: R-FACT Study:Risk Factors for Alloimmunization After Red Blood Cell Transfusions

Resource links provided by NLM:

Further study details as provided by Sanquin Research & Blood Bank Divisions:

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • Red blood cell allo-antibody formation [ Time Frame: An average of 8 weeks after study initiation in a participating center ] [ Designated as safety issue: No ]
    Outcome measure would be assessed in a participating study center after an average 8 weeks from the initiation of the study in that particular study center

Biospecimen Retention:   Samples With DNA

Blood samples from consenting participants collected and retained: plasma,serum and buffy coat

Estimated Enrollment: 1500
Study Start Date: January 2009
Estimated Study Completion Date: January 2013
Estimated Primary Completion Date: August 2012 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Cases and Controls
Cases: alloantibody formers Controls: non-alloantibody formers

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Detailed Description:

Introduction: Individuals exposed to red blood cell (RBC) alloantigens through transfusion, pregnancy, or transplantation may produce antibodies against the alloantigens expressed by RBCs. Although the incidence of these events is debated and ranges between percentages of 1-6% in single transfused patients and up to 30 % in poly-transfused patients (e.g. sickle cell disease, thalassemia and myelodysplasia), they can pose serious clinical problems such as delayed haemolytic reactions as well as logistic problems e.g. to obtain timely and properly matched transfusion blood for patients in which new alloantibodies are detected.

Rationale: It is known that the risk of a recipient to develop antibodies depends on dose and route of administration and the immunogenicity of the antigen, as well as on genetic or acquired patient-related factors. The latter factors however are ill defined and therefore we hypothesize that the particular clinical conditions (e.g. used medication, concomitant infection, cellular immunity) during which transfusions are given may contribute to the risk of immunization.

Research objective: Examine the association between clinical, environmental and genetic characteristics of the recipient of erythrocyte transfusions and the risk against immunization against erythrocyte alloantigens exposed to during that transfusion episode.

METHODOLOGY Study Design and study population We will perform a retrospective matched case- cohort study at hospitals nationwide from a period January 2005 to December 2011. Large red blood cell using hospitals will be selected as study bases. The study cohort will comprise of consecutive red blood cell transfused patients at the study center.

Cases are defined as first time ever irregular red blood cell antibody formers, with no prior history of red blood cell transfusions and alloimmunization before the study period.

Controls will be all consecutive transfused patients who had received their first and subsequent red blood transfusions at the study center with no prior history of red blood cell transfusions and alloimmunization.

Observational studies, if well conducted, are equipped to examine interesting transfusion research questions. With that in mind, we chose a case- cohort study design for our study. With the help of such a design, we can compare the cases occurring in a red blood cell transfused cohort with a randomly selected sample of the cohort. Using such an approach, for any one given case, we will select 2 controls that have had at least the same number or more transfusions than the case itself. This approach has following advantages:

  1. This ensures that all the patients in the transfusion cohort with same or higher number of transfusions have an equal chance of being picked as controls. In essence, any member of the cohort who has been at a similar transfusion risk (of alloimmunization) at some point in their transfusion history can be selected as a control.
  2. Cases also have an equal chance of getting selected as controls for other cases.

This study design minimizes the selection bias, if any. Such a study design allows us to include a number of patients which is sufficient to detect smaller effects and to adjust for other risk factors, as well as document potential risk factors extensively.

Matching We will take in to account the number of transfusions a particular case received uptil the antibody forming episode, and match the 2 cases (selected per control) on the same number of transfusions.

To account for inter- hospital differences nationwide, we will also match the cases and controls on the site/ study center.

Implicated Period To examine the immunomodulating clinical risk factors surrounding the transfusions preceding the date of alloantibody formation, we will define a clinical risk period or an implicated period of alloimmunization during which the case would have formed an irregular red blood cell antibody. This period would be the time (in days) between the date of a first ever positive screen for alloantibody to a calendar date 30 days before that positive screen. We will also introduce a lag period of minimum 7 days between that first ever positive screen and the last ever transfusion (implicating transfusion) before that positive screen. (Figure 2) This is to ensure that a patient's immune system has adequate time to respond to the transfusion exposure.

We will define a similar implicated period in the matched controls as well, retrospectively from the "implicating transfusion" to 30 calendar days back.

First time formed alloantibody Our endpoint for cases, or first time formed irregular red blood cell antibodies is defined as clinically significant antibodies as screened by a three cell serology panel at 37 degree Celsius. All patients were routinely screened for alloantibodies, which is repeated at least every 72 hours, if further transfusions as required. The antibodies are screened for by a three cell panel including an indirect antiglobulin test (LISS Diamed ID gel system) and subsequently identifies by a standard 11 cell panels in the same gel system.

Data acquirement, measurements and handling Transfusion cohort data will be acquired from the hospital blood transfusion services and on site patient records. Second we will use data from a patient questionnaire. Thirdly, we will determine the patients' racial background from blood of the included and consenting patients.

4.3.1 Patient Medical history and records Potential clinical risk factors include haematological, oncological, surgical and medicinal data as well as auto- immune diseases and related conditions at the time of the implicated (likely causal) transfusion. Factors and conditions that will be actively scored are, infections (including the causal microorganisms) and active / chronic allergies (including the if known antigens), fever, cytopenia(s), systemic inflammatory response (a clinical response to a (non)-specific insult of either infectious or noninfectious origin), peripheral blood progenitor cells transplantation (autologous or allogenous), multi trauma, splenectomy, solid malignancies, autoimmune disorders (rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes mellitus type 1 etc.), chemotherapy, immunosuppressive drugs, cytostatics and antibiotics will be studied.

Questionnaire Participants will be asked to fill out a printed questionnaire. The participants have also the option to fill in a web-based questionnaire, which will be accessible via a link provided in the information letter. After identification of control patients a similar mailing will be sent to these controls Environmental and life style factors like vaccination status, previous pregnancies in case of females, level of education and current professions (as a proxy for socio- economic status) will be obtained via the patient information questionnaire. The questionnaire will add to the knowledge to these possible confounders in cases and controls.

In general, many questions will involve "life-time" risk factors and information and are not particularly targeted at the time of implicated episode.

Racial confounder Based on the knowledge that different ethnicities have varying frequencies of erythrocyte antigens, a so- called mismatch between a donor from one particular ethnicity and the recipient of another ethnicity does play a role in developing immune response to donor erythrocytes. Therefore, we will also attempt to document racial mismatch leading to red blood cell alloimmunization. This is attempted by one question in the questionnaire but will foremost rely on the blood group typing which usually determines the ethnicity.

Blood research and sampling To investigate the effect of genetic factors on the risk of the development of alloantibodies, we will collect blood samples from all participants for extensively typing the blood to get an antigen profile and to look at genetic markers which influence immune system and vaccination efficiency. SNP's in candidate genes (e.g. coding for HLA types) modulating specific and innate immune responses will be assessed. Biomarkers typical for the activity of the immune response: cytokines and titres of antibodies against common (vaccinated) antigens can later be determined in the plasma and serum that are stored as well.

Statistical analysis We expect to include a total of 500 case patients and 1000 controls. Logistic regression models will be used to assess the association between the risk to develop antibodies and potential risk factors, adjusted for other risk factors and for the number of exposures to the antigen.

We will examine the association between the risk factor and alloimmunization using logistic regression.

We will also make a selection of all cases and controls on the most frequently found antibodies and if the relative impact of risk factors and immune modulators on the risk of all the antibody types( in separate analysis) is in the same direction, we will make a generalized observation.

With 1500 patients, and the conventional 80% power and a p-value of 0.05, we will be able to detect effects (odds ratio) of dichotomized risk factors of 1.35 or higher.

An additional analysis will be performed along the lines of a "case-crossover" design within the case patients. The "Hazard Period" (time period right before the detection of a positive antibody) will be compared to a "Control Component" (a specified time period other than the Hazard Period) in the case patient's medical history and the risk ratio for the transient effect risk factors will be calculated.

ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS Regulation statement The study will have a multicenter design subjecting patients to a questionnaire and additional blood sampling. After approval by the central MEC of the LUMC, the study clearly requires a local Medical Ethical Committee approval for each site that detects an probable transfusion mediated alloimmunization. Help of local investigators, usually the local haematologist or clinical chemist in charge of the transfusion laboratory will be recruited to substantiate implementation of the study at the various sites. Each local investigator will in fact be responsible for ensuring that the study will be conducted in his centre in accordance with the protocol, the ethical principal of the Declaration of Helsinki, current ICH guidelines on Good Clinical Practice and applicable regulatory requirements.

Recruitment and Consent Data will be collected at each hospital site, Sanquin and from medical records and files. All data will be coded for privacy reasons. As said, after identification of cases and controls, patients will be sent a short and concise letter and an information brochure explaining the purpose of the study. This letter will be combined with the questionnaire and foremost - an answer card expressing willingness or refusal to participate in the study to fill in and return to the study's contact address. Participants, moreover, will have an option of filling in the questionnaire via the study's website. The web link access will be explained in the patient information. After receiving a patient's positive response to our request to participate, a follow- up call will be made by the investigator to answer any additional queries and if applicable to make an appointment for the blood taking. The patients would be invited to LUMC or the participating centers for blood taking. Additionally to the signed answer card for blood taking, patients would be informed about the study once again at the blood taking appointment, and a final consent form in presence of the study coordinator and datamanager will me signed before the blood taking commences. Proper tubing and transfer material will be provided to the non- LUMC sites.

The patient burden The reading of the information and completing the questionnaire (estimated to take about 10 minutes) will be of minimal patient burden or stress and is absolutely voluntary. Apart from the questionnaire, the protocol involves a single blood sampling of 25 ml as main discomfort for cases and controls. However, the blood taking will preferably be combined with a regular control and if possible a blood sampling.

The blood taking will be organized centrally at the LUMC upon invitations. There are no further interventions within the study protocol. The study has absolute minimum invasive risk for the patients.

Medical information, data and sample handling and Reports

  1. Per patient an electronic Case Record Form (CRF) with a unique study number (identifier) will be made. The CRFs will be subjected to independent data management. The principal investigators Anske van der Bom en J.J. Zwaginga, will be responsible for the CRF and data management.
  2. Patient-identifying parameters such as name, the hospital patient number and the full birth date will not be entered and found in the electronic CRF. The key between these identifying data and the unique study number will be only available to the data management at the department of Epidemiology. These patient identifying parameters are only needed for sending the questionnaire and making an appointment for blood taking which will be done by the data management. The blood taking and further sampling will involve relabeling of the tubes to the specific study number.

There will be a provision to keep the patient personal details for the entire duration of storage of blood samples, with a possibility to track back and indentify the patients with their blood samples. Coding measure will ensure that this information is not available to a third party and is only accessible via an encoding key to the principal investigators of the R- FACT study. Individual medical and investigational information obtained during the study is considered confidential and disclosure to third parties is prohibited. The described strategy will guarantee effective study of data together with maintaining optimal patient privacy.

The blood samples will be stored in state-of-the-art storage facilities at the LUMC, with storage management software for 20 years.

The research, patient information, blood sampling and storage will be conducted in accordance with LUMC's Good Research Practice guidelines.

Withdrawal of individuals Subjects can decide to have their samples removed from the serum, plasma, DNA and RNA bank and thus from further research in the future at any time and for any reason, i.e. meaning without consequences for their further clinical treatment.

Independent physician Before consenting, patients can gather information or advice from the investigator but also from an independent physician: Tanja Netelenbos, MD.. This name will be provided in the patient information.

Objection by minors or incapacitated subjects Not applicable Group related risk assessment and benefits Not applicable Incentives Not applicable

ADMINISTRATIVE ASPECTS AND PUBLICATION Handling and storage of data and documents Data handling will comply with the Dutch Personal Data Protection Act. A data-manager (employed on the project) and the PhD fellow will extract data from the study sites, and recode patients and locations to unique study codes under which non- patient identifying data are filed in a CRF per patient.

There will be no specific physical CRFs because of the massive patient / control numbers and electronic data sets can be often automatically extracted from the patient information systems present in most hospitals.

Amendments All amendments will be notified to the MEC that gave a favourable opinion.

Annual Progress Report The investigators will submit a progress summary of the study to Sanquin as sponsor of the study regularly. Information on inclusion of cases and controls, other problems and amendments will be provided as required by the regional and local MEC's.

End of the study report The investigator will notify the accredited MECs of the end of the study within a period of 8 weeks. The end of the study is defined as the last data collected from medical records and case- control questionnaires.

Public disclosure and publication policy The final publication of the study results will be written by the study coordinator(s) on the basis of the statistical analysis performed. A draft manuscript will be submitted to all co-authors for review. After revision the manuscript will be sent to a peer reviewed scientific journal.

Any publication, abstract or presentation based on patients included in the study must be approved by the study investigators and collaborators.


Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years and older
Genders Eligible for Study:   Both
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   Yes
Sampling Method:   Probability Sample
Study Population

Study Design and study population We will perform a retrospective matched case- cohort study at hospitals nationwide from a period January 2005 to December 2011. Large red blood cell using hospitals will be selected as study bases. The study cohort will comprise of consecutive red blood cell transfused patients at the study center.

Cases are defined as first time ever irregular red blood cell antibody formers, with no prior history of red blood cell transfusions and alloimmunization before the study period.

Controls will be all consecutive transfused patients who had received their first and subsequent red blood transfusions at the study center with no prior history of red blood cell transfusions and alloimmunization.


Inclusion Criteria:

  • First time ever Red blood cell transfusion recipients after the start of study period (January 2005)

Exclusion Criteria:

  • children under 18 years
  • patients with prior history of red blood cell transfusions and alloimmunization before study period
  Contacts and Locations
Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the Contacts provided below. For general information, see Learn About Clinical Studies.

Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT01616329

Contact: Jaap Jan Zwaginga, MD PhD

Leiden University Medical Center Recruiting
Leiden, Netherlands, 2300RC
Contact: Jaap Jan Zwaginga, MD Phd   
Sponsors and Collaborators
Sanquin Research & Blood Bank Divisions
Leiden University Medical Center
Principal Investigator: Johanna van der Bom, MD Phd Sanquin- LUMC, Leiden
Principal Investigator: Jaap Jan Zwaginga, MD Phd Sanquin-Lumc, Leiden
Principal Investigator: Saurabh Zalpuri, MD MSc Sanquin- LUMC, Leiden
  More Information

Additional Information:
Responsible Party: Sanquin Research & Blood Bank Divisions Identifier: NCT01616329     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: PPOC-08-006, CCMO-NL29563.058.09
Study First Received: March 16, 2012
Last Updated: June 7, 2012
Health Authority: Netherlands: The Central Committee on Research Involving Human Subjects (CCMO)
Netherlands: Medical Ethics Review Committee (METC)

Keywords provided by Sanquin Research & Blood Bank Divisions:
Risk processed this record on November 23, 2014