AABB Foundation Hall of Fame Members Identify New Biomarker in Quality of Blood Donations

February 06, 2024

A team of researchers led by AABB Foundation Hall of Fame inductees Angelo D’Alessandro, PhD (2023); Michael P. Busch, MD, PhD (2007); and James C. Zimring, MD, PhD (2015), has identified kynurenine as a new biomarker in the quality of stored red blood cells. D’Alessandro, along with co-investigators from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, published their findings last week in Blood.

In this study, the research team analyzed metabolites in red blood cell units from 13,091 donors at the end of storage. Investigators performed further analyses on 643 units from donors with extremely high or low hemolysis, who were invited to donate a second unit of blood for longitudinal multi-omics testing at storage day 10, 23 and 42.

D’Alessandro and his co-investigators found that metabolites that change progressively during storage – the so-called markers of the storage lesion – did not strongly correlate with hemolytic propensity. On the other hand, levels of kynurenine – a metabolite that plays a critical role in immune response – were predictive of osmotic fragility, even though they did not change significantly during storage.

The investigators also found that kynurenine levels at the time of donation were influenced by donor age, sex and body mass index and remained consistent across multiple donations from the same donor over time. By combining their results with data from a precision transfusion medicine genomics array, the investigators identified genetic traits that associate with kynunrenine synthesis, transport and metabolism in donated blood.

According to investigators, the results suggest that the quality of blood may depend on donor traits just as much, or more so, than the storage duration. They also believe that understanding how this biomarker impacts blood efficacy may also lead to personalized transfusion medicine

“Our research underscores the potential of personalized transfusion medicine,” D’Alessandro said in a press release.  “By focusing on kynurenine as a marker, we can better understand and predict the quality of stored blood, tailoring transfusion practices to individual patient needs.”

AABB Foundation-Supported Investigators Transform Research

An AABB Foundation grant is a career milestone for many investigators beginning their careers in transfusion medicine and biotherapies, often validating their research scope as their career trajectory is just taking shape. This funding inspires innovation in the field for years to come.

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