DEL phenotype


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American National Red Cross

Subject: Medical Laboratory Technology


ISSN: 0894-203X
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VOLUME 33 , ISSUE 3 (September 2017) > List of articles

DEL phenotype

Dong Hyang Kwon * / S. Gerald Sandler / Willy Albert Flegel

Keywords : blood group antigens, RHD variants, DEL, weak D phenotype, blood transfusion

Citation Information : Immunohematology. Volume 33, Issue 3, Pages 125-132, DOI:

License : (Transfer of Copyright)

Published Online: 09-October-2019



DEL red blood cells (RBCs) type as D– by routine serologic methods and are transfused routinely, without being identified as expressing a very weak D antigen, to D– recipients. DEL RBCs are detected only by adsorption and elution of anti-D or by molecular methods. Most DEL phenotypes have been reported in population studies conducted in East Asia, although DEL phenotypes have been detected also among Caucasian individuals. Approximately 98 percent of DEL phenotypes in East Asians are associated with the RHD*DEL1 or RHD*01EL.01 allele. The prevalence of DEL phenotypes has been reported among D– Han Chinese (30%), Japanese (28%), and Korean (17%) populations. The prevalence of DEL phenotypes is significantly lower among D– Caucasian populations (0.1%). Among the 3–5 percent of African individuals who are D–, there are no reports of the DEL phenotype. Case reports from East Asia indicate that transfusion of DEL RBCs to D– recipients has been associated with D alloimmunization. East Asian immigrants constitute 2.1 percent of the 318.9 million persons residing in the United States, and an estimated 2.8 percent are blood donors. Using these statistics, we estimate that 68–683 units of DEL RBCs from donors of East Asian ancestry are transfused as D– annually in the United States. Given the reports from East Asia of D alloimmunization attributed to transfusion of DEL RBCs, one would expect an occasional report of D alloimmunization in the United States following transfusion of DEL RBCs to a D– recipient. If such cases do occur, the most likely reason that they are not detected is the absence of active post-transfusion monitoring for formation of anti-D.

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