Transfusion. 2005 Oct;45(10):1561-7.

A comprehensive analysis of DEL types: partial DEL individuals are prone to anti-D alloimmunization.

by Christoph Gassner

Körmöczi GF, Gassner C, Shao CP, Uchikawa M, Legler TJ.



The D antigen of the polymorphic Rh blood group system is of particular clinical importance regarding transfusion- and pregnancy-induced alloimmunization. Different RhD variants with specific clinical implications have been characterized. The least expressed D variants collectively called DEL are serologically detectable only by adsorption-elution techniques, with so far only poorly defined antigenic properties.

Study design and methods

A comprehensive immunohematologic analysis of five of the six currently known DEL genotypes was performed. DEL phenotypes associated with the RHD(M295I), RHD(IVS3+1g>a), RHD(K409K), RHD(X418L), or RHD(IVS5-38del4) allele were characterized with extended serology and flow cytometry.


Epitope mapping with adsorption-elution revealed a prominent D epitope loss in the RHD(IVS3+1g>a)-associated DEL phenotype, whereas in the other four DEL types no signs of qualitative D antigen alteration were detected. The observation of alloanti-D in two RHD(IVS3+1g>a) cases confirmed the partial nature of this DEL phenotype. The RHD(M295I) phenotype exhibited the highest D antigen expression among all investigated DEL types, as determined by a semiquantitative adsorption-elution approach and flow cytometry.


In conclusion, evidence is provided that different DEL genotypes code either for partial or complete D antigen expression and that this finding is clinically relevant.

PMID: 16181205 DOI: 10.1111/j.1537-2995.2005.00584.x

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