Papers And Originals

Direct Antiglobulin Reaction in ABO-Haemolytic Disease of the Newborn

Br Med J 1973; 1 doi: (Published 03 March 1973) Cite this as: Br Med J 1973;1:524
  1. E. L. Romano,
  2. N. C. Hughes-Jones,
  3. P. L. Mollison


    The minimum number of IgG anti-A (or anti-B) molecules detectable on A or B red cells by the antiglobulin reaction was found to be the same—that is, about 150 molecules per red cell—with newborn as with adult cells. Furthermore, the ratio of anti-IgG bound to IgG anti-A (or anti-B) molecules was the same whether the anti-A (or anti-B) molecules were present on newborn or on adult cells and was similar to that found for anti-IgG bound to IgG anti-Rh.

    In 15 infants (11 group A, 4 group B) with haemolytic disease of the newborn due to ABO-incompatibility the amount of anti-A or anti-B on the red cells ranged from 0·25 to 3·5 μg antibody per ml red cells, corresponding to 90-1,320 antibody molecules per cell; only five infants had more than 0·55 μg antibody per ml of red cells. These amounts are far smaller than those found in most moderate or severe cases of Rh-haemolytic disease.

    It is concluded that the weak direct antiglobulin reactions observed in ABO-haemolytic disease are due simply to the fact that the number of anti-A (or anti-B) molecules on the infant's red cells is at the lower limit of sensitivity of the test. Since ABO-haemolytic disease can be quite a severe process it seems probable that IgG anti-A and anti-B molecules are more effective than anti-Rh molecules in bringing about red cell destruction.