Effect of red blood cell storage time on markers of hemolysis and inflammation in transfused very low birth weight infants

Pediatr Res. 2017 Dec;82(6):964-969. doi: 10.1038/pr.2017.177. Epub 2017 Aug 16.


BackgroundProlonged storage of transfused red blood cells (RBCs) is associated with hemolysis in healthy adults and inflammation in animal models. We aimed to determine whether storage duration affects markers of hemolysis (e.g., serum bilirubin, iron, and non-transferrin-bound iron (NTBI)) and inflammation (e.g., interleukin (IL)-8 and monocyte chemoattractant protein (MCP)-1) in transfused very low birth weight (VLBW) infants.MethodsBlood samples from 23 independent transfusion events were collected by heel stick before and 2-6 h after transfusion.ResultsSerum iron, total bilirubin, NTBI, and MCP-1 levels were significantly increased after transfusion of RBCs (P<0.05 for each comparison). The storage age of transfused RBCs positively correlated with increases in NTBI following transfusion (P<0.001; R2=0.44). No associations between storage duration and changes in the other analytes were observed.ConclusionTransfusion of RBCs into VLBW infants is associated with increased markers of hemolysis and the inflammatory chemokine MCP-1. RBC-storage duration only correlated with increases in NTBI levels following transfusion. NTBI was only observed in healthy adults following 35 days of storage; however, this study suggests that VLBW infants are potentially more susceptible to produce this pathological form of iron, with increased levels observed after transfusion of only 20-day-old RBCs.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Bilirubin / blood
  • Biomarkers / blood*
  • Blood Preservation*
  • Cytokines / blood
  • Erythrocyte Transfusion*
  • Hemolysis*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Very Low Birth Weight
  • Inflammation / blood*
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism
  • Iron / blood
  • Prospective Studies
  • Time and Motion Studies


  • Biomarkers
  • Cytokines
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Iron
  • Bilirubin