Pathogen reduction using riboflavin and UV light

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Pathogen reduction using riboflavin and UV light is a method by which infectious pathogens in blood for transfusion are inactivated by adding riboflavin and irradiating with UV light.[1][2][3] This method reduces the infectious levels of disease-causing agents that may be found in donated blood components, while still maintaining good quality blood components for transfusion. This type of approach to increase blood safety is also known as “pathogen inactivation” in the industry.

Despite measures that are in place in the developed world to ensure the safety of blood products for transfusion, a risk of disease transmission still exists. Consequently, the development of pathogen inactivation/reduction technologies for blood products has been an ongoing effort in the field of transfusion medicine. A new procedure for the treatment of individual units of single-donor (apheresis) or whole blood–derived, pooled, platelets has recently been introduced. This technology uses riboflavin and light for the treatment of PLTs and plasma.


This pathogen reduction process involves adding riboflavin (vitamin B2) to the blood component, which is then placed into an illuminator where it is exposed to UV light for about five to ten minutes. Exposure to UV light activates riboflavin and when it is associated with nucleic acids (DNA and RNA), riboflavin causes a chemical alteration to functional groups of the nucleic acids thereby making pathogens unable to replicate.[1][4][5] In this way the process prevents viruses, bacteria, parasites and white blood cells, from replicating and causing disease.[6][7]

UV Light + Riboflavin → Irreversible Inactivation

This method using riboflavin and UV light renders pathogens harmless by using a non-mutagenic, non-toxic method. Riboflavin and its photoproducts are already present in the human body and do not need to be removed from blood products prior to transfusion.[1]

Examples of pathogens inactivated by this method[edit]


The riboflavin and UV light method for pathogen reduction of platelets and plasma is in routine use in multiple countries throughout Europe.[10][11][12][13] This same process is currently in development for the treatment of whole blood, resulting in pathogen reduction of the three components (RBCs, platelets and plasma).


  1. ^ a b c Hardwick CC, Herivel TR, Hernandez SC, Ruane PH, Goodrich RP (2004). "Separation, identification and quantification of riboflavin and its photoproducts in blood products using high-performance liquid chromatography with fluorescence detection: a method to support pathogen reduction technology". Photochem. Photobiol. 80 (3): 609–15. ISSN 0031-8655. PMID 15382964. doi:10.1562/0031-8655(2004)080<0609:TNSIAQ>2.0.CO;2. 
  2. ^ a b Sullivan J, et al. (2008). "Pathogen Inactivation of plasmodium Falciparum in Plasma and Platelet Concentrations with Riboflavin and UV Light". Vox Sanguinis. 95 (Suppl. 1): 278–279. doi:10.1111/j.1423-0410.2008.01056.x. 
  3. ^ Reddy HL, Dayan AD, Cavagnaro J, Gad S, Li J, Goodrich RP (April 2008). "Toxicity testing of a novel riboflavin-based technology for pathogen reduction and white blood cell inactivation". Transfus Med Rev. 22 (2): 133–53. PMID 18353253. doi:10.1016/j.tmrv.2007.12.003. 
  4. ^ Larrea L, Calabuig M, Roldán V, Rivera J, Tsai HM, Vicente V, Roig R (December 2009). "The influence of riboflavin photochemistry on plasma coagulation factors". Transfus. Apher. Sci. 41 (3): 199–204. PMC 3158998Freely accessible. PMID 19782644. doi:10.1016/j.transci.2009.09.006. 
  5. ^ a b c Ruane PH, Edrich R, Gampp D, Keil SD, Leonard RL, Goodrich RP (June 2004). "Photochemical inactivation of selected viruses and bacteria in platelet concentrates using riboflavin and light". Transfusion. 44 (6): 877–85. PMID 15157255. doi:10.1111/j.1537-2995.2004.03355.x. 
  6. ^ Goodrich RP, et al. (2006). "Chapter 5:The Antiviral and Antibacterial Properties of Riboflavin and Light: Applications to Blood Safety and Transfusion Medicine". In Edwards, Ana M., Silva, Eduardo. Flavins: photochemistry and photobiology. Cambridge: RSC Publishing. ISBN 0-85404-331-4. 
  7. ^ a b Fast LD, Dileone G, Marschner S (December 2010). "Inactivation of human white blood cells in platelet products after pathogen reduction technology treatment in comparison to gamma irradiation". Transfusion. 51 (7): no–no. PMID 21155832. doi:10.1111/j.1537-2995.2010.02984.x. 
  8. ^ Goodrich RP, Custer B, Keil S, Busch M (August 2010). "Defining "adequate" pathogen reduction performance for transfused blood components". Transfusion. 50 (8): 1827–37. PMID 20374558. doi:10.1111/j.1537-2995.2010.02635.x. 
  9. ^ Cardo LJ, Salata J, Mendez J, Reddy H, Goodrich R (October 2007). "Pathogen inactivation of Trypanosoma cruzi in plasma and platelet concentrates using riboflavin and ultraviolet light". Transfus. Apher. Sci. 37 (2): 131–7. PMID 17950672. doi:10.1016/j.transci.2007.07.002. 
  10. ^ CaridianBCT. (2010, June 23). CaridianBCT’s Mirasol Pathogen Reduction Technologies System Selected to Increase Safety of Poland’s Blood Supply. [Press Release]. Retrieved from,2010-CaridianBCTMirasolPathogenReductionTechnologiesSystemSelectedtoIncreaseSafetyofPoland%E2%80%99sBloodSupply.aspx
  11. ^ Business Wire. (2010, July 20). Belgian Red Cross-Flanders Selects CaridianBCT’s Mirasol® Pathogen Reduction Technology System. [Press Release]. Retrieved from
  12. ^ All Business. (2008, October 6). Warsaw Blood Center Selects CaridianBCT for Mirasol PRT. [Press Release]. Retrieved from
  13. ^ Healthcare Technology Online. (2008, August 6). CaridianBCT Receives CE Mark for Mirasol Pathogen Reduction Technology System for Plasma. [Press Release]. Retrieved from