The influence of a partially HLA-matched blood transfusion on the disease activity of rheumatoid arthritis
van der Horst-Bruinsma IE, Huizinga TW, Lagaay EM, Hazes JM, Breedveld FC, Schreuder GM, Tomson TA, Zwinderman AH, van Rood JJ, de Vries RR
OBJECTIVE Based on the immunosuppressive effects of blood transfusions in organ transplantation, we determined the effect of a blood transfusion on disease activity of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). METHOD In this double-blind pilot study, 40 patients with active RA were randomly assigned to receive a HLA-DRB1-matched blood transfusion (n = 30) or placebo (n = 10). Disease activity was scored according to the American College of Rheumatology response criteria during 6 months of follow-up. RESULTS After 1 month and 6 months, respectively, 6 and 16% of patients fulfilled the response criteria in the blood transfusion group compared to none and 30%, respectively, in the placebo group. Following correction for the increase in haemoglobin levels, a majority of the response parameters in the blood transfusion group showed significant improvement compared to the placebo group. CONCLUSION A DRB1-matched blood transfusion shows improvement of symptoms in several RA patients. Additional studies are required to identify blood transfusion regimens that enhance the potential for therapeutic responses.