What is the role of riboflavin in the prevention of transfusion-transmitted diseases?

Updated: Jan 15, 2017
  • Author: Mudassar Zia, MD; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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Riboflavin (vitamin B-2) can inactivate pathogens in platelets and plasma and is approved for this use in Europe. Riboflavin binds to DNA and RNA to create cross-links when photoactivated. It appears to be effective in inactivating HIV and WNV, as well as some bacteria and protozoa. Pathogen inactivation via riboflavin and UV-light treatment processes result from irreversible, photochemically induced damage to nucleic acids.

Chemicals used in the solvent-detergent, methylene blue, and amotosalen methods are removed from the blood product after treatment; usually, the loss of efficacy of the product is attributable to these final steps.

Riboflavin, however, is a natural product that does not need to be removed from the blood product and for this reason may better allow the blood to retain its coagulant and anticoagulant properties.

There were concerns in the past about the effect of several preparation agents on the stability of proteins in blood products, particularly fresh frozen plasma. Studies have since shown, however, that fresh frozen plasma units treated with riboflavin can maintain coagulant and anticoagulant in vitro protein activity at -30°C for up to 2 years. [91]

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