Prevention of transfusion-associated Chagas' disease: efficacy of white cell-reduction filters in removing Trypanosoma cruzi from infected blood
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BACKGROUND: Transfusion-associated Chagas' disease (TA-CD) is a worldwide problem. Measures adopted to prevent TA-CD include the clinical and serologic screening of blood donors and/or the inactivation of Trypanosoma cruzi present in collected blood, using gentian violet as the trypanocidal agent. This study investigated the efficacy of white cell-reduction filters in removing T. cruzi from infected blood. STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: Human blood was contaminated with 2 or 150 T. cruzi parasites per mL and then left unfiltered or filtered with white cell-reduction filters that provided either 2, 3, or 6 log10 white cell removal. The efficacy of the parasite removal of these filters was evaluated by microscopic enumeration of active forms of T. cruzi both in vivo and in vitro. The in vivo experiments were done in Swiss mice that had been intraperitoneally inoculated with T. cruzi-infected human blood. The in vitro experiments were performed with fresh human blood that had been deliberately contaminated with T. cruzi. RESULTS: The number of parasites seen in mice inoculated with unfiltered blood containing 2 or 150 parasites per mL was significantly higher than the number of parasites seen in mice inoculated with blood from the same sample, but filtered with white cell-reduction filters providing 3 or 6 log10 white cell removal. Fifty to 70 percent of the mice given T. cruzi-infected (2 parasites/mL) filtered blood did not develop T. cruzi infection. In vitro, the use of white cell-reduction filters, providing 2, 3, or 6 log10 white cell removal, significantly reduced the number of parasites seen in culture. CONCLUSION: The present experimental data provide evidence that white cell-reduction filters are effective in reducing the number of parasites in T. cruzi-infected blood and that this efficacy depends, in part, on the concentration of parasites in the artificially infected blood. Properly designed clinical studies of known carriers of T. cruzi must be conducted to determine whether the use of white cell-reduction filters may be an alternative method of reducing the incidence of TA-CD.