Blood cells, molecules & diseases

Characterization of morphological response of red cells in a sucrose solution.

PMID 19249232


The dynamics of red cell shape changes following transfer into sucrose media having a low chloride content was studied. Based on a large number of measurements, six types of morphological response (MR), differing both in the degree of shape changes and the time course of the process, were identified. The most prominent type of response is a triphasic sequence of shape changes consisting of a fast transformation into a sphere (phase 1), followed by restoration of the discoid shape (phase 2) and final transformation into spherostomatocytes (phase 3), with individual parameters which could vary significantly. It was found that individual morphological response exhibited day to day variations, depending on the initial state of the red blood cells and the donor, but to a larger extent depended on the composition of the sucrose solution, such as concentration and type of buffers, the presence of EDTA, calcium, as well as very small amounts of extracellular hemoglobin. MR shows strong pH and ionic strength dependence. Low pH inhibited phase 1 and high pH changed dramatically the time course of the response. Increasing ionic strength inhibited all phases of MR, and at concentrations above 10-20 mM NaCl it was fully suppressed. Tris and phosphate were also inhibitory whereas HEPES, MOPS and Tricine were less effective. MR occurred also in hypertonic or hypotonic sucrose solutions, with exception of extreme hypotonicity due to volume restrictions. It is concluded that strong membrane depolarization per se is not a causal factor leading to MR, and its different phases could be regulated independently. For some types of morphological response the fast shape transformation from sphere to disc and back to sphere occurs within a 10 s time interval and could be accelerated several fold in the presence of a small amount of hemoglobin. It is suggested that MR represents a type of general cell reaction that occurs upon exposure to low ionic strength.

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PIPES sodium salt, ≥99% (titration)