Immune reactions categorized as type II hypersensitivities, or cytotoxic hypersensitivities, are mediated by IgG and IgM antibodies binding to cell-surface antigens or matrix-associated antigens on basement membranes. These antibodies can either activate complement, resulting in an inflammatory response and lysis of the targeted cells, or they can be involved in antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) with cytotoxic T cells.
In some cases, the antigen may be a self-antigen, in which case the reaction would also be described as an autoimmune disease. In other cases, antibodies may bind to naturally occurring, but exogenous, cell-surface molecules such as antigens associated with blood typing found on red blood cells (RBCs). This leads to the coating of the RBCs by antibodies, activation of the complement cascade, and complement-mediated lysis of RBCs, as well as opsonization of RBCs for phagocytosis. Two examples of type II hypersensitivity reactions involving RBCs are hemolytic transfusion reaction (HTR) and hemolytic disease of the newborn (HDN).
Immunohematology is the study of blood and blood-forming tissue in relation to the immune response. Antibody-initiated responses against blood cells are type II hypersensitivities, thus falling into the field of immunohematology. For students first learning about immunohematology, understanding the immunological mechanisms involved is made even more challenging by the complex nomenclature system used to identify different blood-group antigens, often called blood types. The first blood-group antigens either used alphabetical names or were named for the first person known to produce antibodies to the red blood cell antigen (e.g., Kell, Duffy, or Diego). However, in 1980, the International Society of Blood Transfusion (ISBT) Working Party on Terminology created a standard for blood-group terminology in an attempt to more consistently identify newly discovered blood group antigens. New antigens are now given a number and assigned to a blood-group system, collection, or series. However, even with this effort, blood-group nomenclature is still inconsistent.
Parker, N., Schneegurt, M., Thi Tu, A.-H., Forster, B. M., & Lister, P. (n.d.). Microbiology. Houston, Texas: OpenStax. Access for free at: https://openstax.org/details/books/microbiology