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Blood cells, molecules & diseases

Dietary supplementation with docosahexanoic acid (DHA) increases red blood cell membrane flexibility in mice with sickle cell disease.


PMID 25488613

Abstract

Humans and mice with sickle cell disease (SCD) have rigid red blood cells (RBCs). Omega-3 fatty acids, such as docosahexanoic acid (DHA), may influence RBC deformability via incorporation into the RBC membrane. In this study, sickle cell (SS) mice were fed natural ingredient rodent diets supplemented with 3% DHA (DHA diet) or a control diet matched in total fat (CTRL diet). After 8weeks of feeding, we examined the RBCs for: 1) stiffness, as measured by atomic force microscopy; 2) deformability, as measured by ektacytometry; and 3) percent irreversibly sickled RBCs on peripheral blood smears. Using atomic force microscopy, it is found that stiffness is increased and deformability decreased in RBCs from SS mice fed CTRL diet compared to wild-type mice. In contrast, RBCs from SS mice fed DHA diet had markedly decreased stiffness and increased deformability compared to RBCs from SS mice fed CTRL diet. Furthermore, examination of peripheral blood smears revealed less irreversibly sickled RBCs in SS mice fed DHA diet as compared to CTRL diet. In summary, our findings indicate that DHA supplementation improves RBC flexibility and reduces irreversibly sickled cells by 40% in SS mice. These results point to potential therapeutic benefits of dietary omega-3 fatty acids in SCD.

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