Granulocyte transfusions for children with infection and neutropenia or granulocyte dysfunction

Pediatr Hematol Oncol. 2014 Aug;31(5):425-34. doi: 10.3109/08880018.2013.868562. Epub 2014 Jan 2.


Transfusions of granulocytes can be used as an adjunct therapy to antimicrobials in patients with infection and neutropenia or granulocyte dysfunction. However, there is a lack of strong clinical evidence to support the use of this treatment strategy, particularly in children. We retrospectively reviewed the medical records of children who received granulocytes at our institution from April 2009 to October 2012, with emphasis on primary indication for the transfusion and clinical outcome in terms of infection. The patients had granulocyte dysfunction or severe neutropenia, defined as absolute neutrophil count (ANC) < 500 cells/mm(3) due to chemotherapy or hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT), and reasonable hope for bone marrow recovery or engraftment. Eighteen children received granulocytes during 20 distinct episodes: 62% (n = 13) for acute infection, 29% (n = 5) for unresolved chronic infection during the time of HSCT, and 9% (n = 2) for other clinical conditions such as typhilitis and appendectomy. Overall, 92% (n = 12) of the episodes of acute infection had complete or partial resolution, as determined by review of vital signs, physical exam findings and discontinuation of antimicrobials. A substantial number (46%) of children who received granulocytes for acute infection developed respiratory adverse events, but all of these recovered. We conclude that granulocyte transfusions continue to be primarily used in neutropenic patients with acute infections, and that its use in this group of patients is reasonable. However, a prospective randomized clinical trial is needed to evaluate safety and whether the use of granulocytes is superior to antimicrobial-only therapy.

Keywords: bone marrow transplant; infections; neutropenia; supportive care; transfusion medicine.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Granulocytes*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infections / blood
  • Infections / etiology
  • Infections / therapy*
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Leukocyte Transfusion*
  • Male
  • Neutropenia / blood
  • Neutropenia / etiology
  • Neutropenia / therapy*
  • Retrospective Studies