Hypergammaglobulinemia can be associated with a positive direct antiglobulin test, a nonreactive eluate, and no evidence of hemolysis
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To determine the cause of a positive direct antiglobulin test (DAT), blood banks routinely perform serologic tests on eluates prepared from DAT-positive red cells. Negative eluates traditionally have been suspected to be associated with drug reactions. This report confirms that the most frequent cause of a positive DAT and a nonreactive eluate is hypergammaglobulinemia. The results of 74 patient samples with positive DATs were analyzed retrospectively. Eluates prepared from the red cells of 54 patients (72.9%) reacted; eluates from 20 patients (27.1%) did not react. This latter group had identical serologic and clinical findings, suggesting that they made up a homogeneous group. In particular, the patients had a positive DAT, a negative indirect antiglobulin test, and a negative eluate; an increased serum concentration of IgG; and no evidence of hemolysis. In a subsequent study, DATs were performed prospectively on red cells from 44 consecutive patients with elevated serum IgG levels. The serum IgG concentration was highest in the three patients whose red cells had a positive DAT. The DAT also became positive in two patients treated with high-dose intravenous gammaglobulin (IV IgG). These studies indicate that a negative eluate from red cells with a positive DAT, a common serologic finding, is often caused by hypergammaglobulinemia. The authors postulate that IgG binds nonspecifically to the red cells because of the hypergammaglobulinemia.
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