Hemolytic anemia resulting from IV Immunoglobulin (IVIG) treatment can be a serious complication, especially for those with underlying conditions with a high level of inflammation and after administration of high IVIG dosages, such as Kawasaki disease (KD), a multisystem vasculitis affecting young children. This hemolysis is caused by antibodies against blood groups A and B, but the precise mechanism for hemolysis is not known. We performed a single center, partly retrospective, partly prospective study of a cohort of 581 patients who received IVIG for treatment of KD from 2006 to 2013. Factors associated with hemolysis were identified through univariable and multivariable logistic regression. Six IVIG preparations were assayed for their hemolytic effect with serological and cellular assays to clarify the mechanism of red cell destruction. During the study period, a sudden increase in the incidence of hemolysis was observed, which coincided with the introduction of new IVIG preparations in North America that contained relatively high titers of anti-A and anti-B. These blood-group-specific antibodies were of the immunoglobulin G2 (IgG2) subclass and resulted in phagocytosis by monocyte-derived macrophages in an FcγRIIa-dependent manner. Phagocytosis was increased in the presence of proinflammatory mediators that mimicked the inflammatory state of KD. An increased frequency of severe hemolysis following IVIG administration was caused by ABO blood-group-specific IgG2 antibodies leading to FcγRIIa-dependent clearance of erythrocytes. This increase in adverse events necessitates a reconsideration of the criteria for maximum titer (1:64) of anti-A and anti-B in IVIG preparations.
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