A prospective, randomized, double-blind study, comparing unirradiated to irradiated white blood cell transfusions in acute leukemia patients
A prospective, randomized double-blind study comparing the effects of irradiated and unirradiated white blood cells was conducted in 108 acute leukemia patients with life-threatening infections, refractory to antibiotics. The study demonstrated no significant improvement in 30-day survival or overall survival. Transfusion of unirradiated white cells did not compromise the patient's opportunity to undergo allogeneic stem cell transplant, nor the success rate or overall survival after allogeneic transplant. The important positive finding in this study was that the unirradiated white cells produced a significantly higher increment in circulating granulocytes and in a higher proportion of patients granulocyte count exceeded 1000 per microliter, approaching normal concentrations. The increase in the number and the improved survival of the unirradiated granulocytes suggest that this procedure might potentially be a method to improve the utility of granulocyte transfusions and merits further investigation. The study demonstrated non-inferiority for unirradiated white cells. There were no harmful effects such as graft-versus-host disease, indicating that such studies would be safe to conduct in the future.