Platelet transfusion: Alloimmunization and refractoriness

Semin Hematol. 2020 Apr;57(2):92-99. doi: 10.1053/j.seminhematol.2019.10.001. Epub 2019 Nov 8.


The transfusion of platelets for both prophylaxis and treatment of bleeding is relevant to all areas of medicine and surgery. Historically, guidance regarding platelet transfusion has been limited by a lack of good quality clinical trials and so has been based largely on expert opinion. In recent years however there has been renewed interest in methods to prevent and treat hemorrhage, and the field has benefited from a number of large clinical trials. Some studies, such as platelet transfusion versus standard care after acute stroke due to spontaneous cerebral haemorrhage associated with antiplatelet therapy (PATCH) and platelets for neonatal transfusion Study 2 (PLANET-2), have reported an increased risk of harm with platelet transfusion in specific patient groups. These studies suggest a wider role of platelets beyond hemostasis, and highlight the need for further clinical trials to better understand the risks and benefits of platelet transfusions. This review evaluates the indications for platelet transfusion, both prophylactic and therapeutic, in the light of recent studies and clinical trials. It highlights new developments in the fields of platelet storage and platelet substitutes, and novel ways to avoid complications associated with platelet transfusions. Lastly, it reviews initiatives designed to reduce inappropriate use of platelet transfusions and to preserve this valuable resource for situations where there is evidence for their beneficial effect.

Keywords: Alloimmunization; Platelet transfusion; Refractoriness.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autoantibodies / immunology*
  • Blood Transfusion, Autologous / methods*
  • Humans
  • Platelet Transfusion / methods*


  • Autoantibodies