Forty-two patients with aplastic anemia (AA) were studied to determine whether or not transfusion-induced sensitization is responsible for the in vitro inhibition by patient lymphocytes of HLA-identical erythroid burst-forming units (BFU-E). The results indicate that lymphocytes from 12 of 34 transfused patients inhibited normal colony growth. In contrast, lymphocytes from none of the 8 untransfused patients demonstrated inhibition. These data were interpreted to mean that coculture studies would not be useful for identifying immune-mediated AA in transfused patients. Therefore, in order to identify possible immune-related AA, we assayed BFU-E from patient blood before and after T-cell depletion. In all 32 patients studied, BFU-E failed to grow from peripheral blood cells before T-cell depletion, but in 8 cases, normal- appearing BFU-E grew after T cells had been removed. Growth of patient BFU-E colonies was inhibited in 6 cases when patient T cells were added back to the culture, indicating that in these 6 patients, an “autoimmune” mechanism may have been present.

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