Alloantibodies vs. Autoantibodies

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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Antibody Detection and Identification. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Alloantibodies vs. Autoantibodies

Alloantibodies
Alloantibodies are immune antibodies that are only produced following exposure to foreign red blood cell antigens.
  • Produced by exposure to foreign red cell antigens which are non-self antigens but are of the same species.
  • They react only with allogenic cells.
  • Exposure occurs through pregnancy or transfusion.
  • Examples include anti-K and anti-E.
Autoantibodies
Some people develop antibodies that react with their own red blood cells. This autoimmune process can be a primary idiopathic condition or a secondary condition in patients with other conditions such as certain infections or lymphomas. Autoantibodies can be clinically significant and result in in-vivo hemolysis, though many are considered benign. Autoantibodies typically react with all reagent cells as well which can cause serological complications during antibody screening procedures by masking any underlying alloantibodies.
  • Produced in an autoimmune process and directed against one's own red cell antigens.
  • React with patient's own cells and typically all cells tested.
  • It is very important to make sure that no underlying significant antibodies are present if an autoantibody is suspected.
  • A positive direct antiglobulin test (DAT) or auto control could indicate the presence of an autoantibody.
  • Examples include cold auto (P or I) or warm auto (Rh specificity).