Biophysical journal

Effect of hydroperoxides on red blood cell membrane mechanical properties.

PMID 22004746


We investigate the effect of oxidative stress on red blood cell membrane mechanical properties in vitro using detailed analysis of the membrane thermal fluctuation spectrum. Two different oxidants, the cytosol-soluble hydrogen peroxide and the membrane-soluble cumene hydroperoxide, are used, and their effects on the membrane bending elastic modulus, surface tension, strength of confinement due to the membrane skeleton, and 2D shear elastic modulus are measured. We find that both oxidants alter significantly the membrane elastic properties, but their effects differ qualitatively and quantitatively. While hydrogen peroxide mainly affects the elasticity of the membrane protein skeleton (increasing the membrane shear modulus), cumene hydroperoxide has an impact on both membrane skeleton and lipid bilayer mechanical properties, as can be seen from the increased values of the shear and bending elastic moduli. The biologically important implication of these results is that the effects of oxidative stress on the biophysical properties, and hence the physiological functions, of the cell membrane depend on the nature of the oxidative agent. Thermal fluctuation spectroscopy provides a means of characterizing these different effects, potentially in a clinical milieu.