Anti-rhesus D prophylaxis in pregnant women is based on sialylated IgG antibodies

Marc Ehlers*, André Winkler, Markus Berger

*Corresponding author for this work
5 Citations (Scopus)


Red blood cells (RBCs) from a rhesus D (RhD)-positive fetus that reach the bloodstream of an RhD-negative pregnant woman during birth can induce a pathogenic antibody (Ab) response against the RhD-positive RBCs, leading to fetal hemolytic disease in subsequent pregnancies. To prevent a pathogenic immune reaction, the RhD-negative mother receives serum immunoglobulin G (IgG) containing polyclonal RhD-specific IgG Abs that is purified from healthy RhD-negative men immunized with RhD-positive RBCs. However, the protective mechanism of these polyclonal RhD-specific IgG Abs is unclear. It has become increasingly clear that the effector function of IgG Abs is regulated by the glycan pattern linked to the Fc region of IgG Abs. Non-fucosylated (afucosylated) IgG Abs have a higher affinity for activating Fc gamma receptors, and thus induce a stronger Ab-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) reaction than do fucosylated IgG Abs. Agalactosylated and asialylated, autoantigen-specific serum IgG Abs correlate with pro-inflammatory immune responses and disease activity in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. In contrast, galactosylated and sialylated IgG Abs are immunosuppressive and inhibit in form of immune complexes (ICs) dendritic cell (DC) maturation and pro-inflammatory T and B cell immune responses in an antigen-specific manner. However, the galactosylation and sialylation levels of the protective polyclonal RhD-specific IgG Abs are unknown. Here, we purified RhD-specific IgG Abs from the approved commercial product Rhophylac® (CSL Behring) and found that these RhD-specific IgG Abs were even more galactosylated and sialylated than the total Rhophylac® IgG Abs. This result suggests that these galactosylated and sialylated polyclonal RhD-specific IgG Abs are immunosuppressive and induce tolerance against RhD, which would be in strong contrast to a low fucosylated, low galactosylated and low sialylated monoclonal RhD-specific IgG Ab developed to prevent fetal hemolytic disease that has recently passed a clinical phase II study.

Original languageEnglish
Article number169.v1
Publication statusPublished - 09.08.2013


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