Plasma treated with methylene blue and light: clinical efficacy and safety profile

Transfus Med Rev. 2013 Oct;27(4):235-40. doi: 10.1016/j.tmrv.2013.08.001. Epub 2013 Sep 24.


Methylene blue (MB) was the first method developed for pathogen inactivation of a labile blood component that was introduced in 1991. MB and light (MBL) inactivates most lipid-enveloped viruses and those non-enveloped are, in general, resistant. MBL treatment affects several coagulation factors, most noticeably fibrinogen and factor VIII with a loss of approximately 30%. Using endogenous thrombin potential, a global hemostasis evaluation, MBL treatment of plasma resulted in a 7% to 10% of reduction in thrombin potential. Although, originally, the scientific evidence of its efficacy and safety were scarce, the 4.4 million of units transfused have provided a wide body of evidence of its efficacy and safety in most of clinical situations. Nevertheless, some doubts have arisen about the efficacy of MBL plasma when used as a replacement solution for plasma exchange in the treatment of patients suffering from TTP. Probably only randomized controlled trials would provide definite evidence to clarify this point. Reports of severe allergic reactions in a few patients receiving MBL plasma have provoked the recent decision to remove the product from the market in France. Interestingly hemovigilance data in countries such as the same France, Spain, and United Kingdom have not corroborated an increase in severe allergic reaction. Close monitoring of the patients receiving plasma and suffering from allergic reactions and reporting to hemovigilance schemes hopefully will provide the needed data to definitely establish the exact risk of this complication for MBL vs other types of plasma.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antiviral Agents / chemistry
  • Blood Safety
  • Blood Transfusion / methods
  • Calibration
  • Factor VIII / chemistry
  • Fibrinogen / chemistry
  • Hemostasis
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Light*
  • Methylene Blue / chemistry*
  • Patient Safety
  • Plasma / drug effects*
  • Plasma / radiation effects
  • Plasma / virology
  • Risk
  • Thrombin / chemistry


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Factor VIII
  • Fibrinogen
  • Thrombin
  • Methylene Blue