Research Publications

Transfusion-Associated Graft-Versus-Host Disease (TA-GVHD)

R3 X-Ray LLC
October 13, 2020

Transfusion-Associated Graft-Versus-Host Disease (TA-GVHD)

What is TA-GVHD and when to predict this reaction?

TA-GVHD is extremely rare and transfused patients present with fever, rash and diarrhea commencing 1-2 weeks post-transfusion. Laboratory findings include pancytopenia and liver function abnormalities.

TA-GVHD leads to profound marrow aplasia with a mortality rate >90%. Death typically occurring within 1–3 weeks of first symptoms, most commonly due to overwhelming infections.(1,2,3)

 What is TA-GVHD and when to predict this reaction?


Typical causes?

This normally happens to immunodeficient recipients whose immune system is unable to recognize the transfused Tlymphocytes as foreign.  These lymphocytes engraft in the recipient and react against the host.

The 3 primary risk factors for developing TA-GVHD are:

1.)    Degree of immunodeficiency of the recipient.

2.)    Number of viable T lymphocytes transfused (affected by the age of the blood transfused, level of leucodepletion and irradiation status).

3.)    Genetic diversity between donor and recipient.  Greatest risks are donations from blood relatives and with HLA matched blood products.

How To Diagnose

Diagnosis is normally made on skin biopsy and occasionally on liver or bone marrow biopsies.

What to do?

Treatment is supportive. Often corticosteroids and cytotoxic agents are used but are largely ineffective and therefore, prevention is crucial.

For patients at risk, it is critical to gamma irradiate cellular blood components. Leucocyte depletion is not sufficient for prevention. 


The X-ray irradiator RADGIL 2 is used for the treatment of Blood and haemoderivatives, Thrombocytes concentrates, cells and tissue, Transplant organs and Generic treatments.

Contact Us to Learn More! 

  1. Fung MK, Grossman BJ, Hillyer CD, Westhoff CM (ed).  Non-infectious complications of blood transfusion.  Chapter 27, AABB Technical     Manual, 18th edition.  AABB, Bethesda, 2014.
  2. Callum JL, Pinkerton PH, Lima A, Lin Y, Karkouti K, Liberman L, et al. Chapter 5, Transfusion Reactions.  Bloody Easy 4: Blood     Transfusions, Blood Alternatives and Transfusion Reactions: A Guide to     Transfusion Medicine, 4th edition.  Canada: Ontario Regional Blood     Coordinating Network, 2016.  Available from:
  3. Delaney M, Wendel S, Bercovitz RS, Cid J, Cohn C, Dunbar NM, et al. Transfusion reactions: prevention, diagnosis and treatment. Lancet, 2016: 388:2825-36.

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