Free radical research

Cigarette smokers develop altered erythrocyte membrane composition: an investigation unmasking the role of membrane bound integral protein GLUT 1.

PMID 28427288


Erythrocytes in cigarette smokers are prone to oxidative damage. Here, we sought to elucidate the facts behind modifications and possible defense system developed in erythrocyte of cigarette smokers. We observed significant increase in stomatocytes and spherocytes, and osmotic fragility of erythrocyte, along with reduced level of protein thiol and increased fluorescence anisotropy in isolated membrane. Denaturing gel electrophoresis indicated alterations in band 3, band 4.2 and band 4.5. Among those, Glut 1 (i.e. band 4.5), which transports glucose (insulin independent) and dehydroascorbate (DHA), was selectively chosen for its long history in reducing reactive oxygen species (ROS). The increased Glut 1 level in smokers was confirmed by immunoblotting and immunocytochemistry. Furthermore, smokers showed significantly higher glucose uptake in whole blood. The intracellular (Ic) ROS (as indicated by 2',7'-dichlorofluorescin) was significantly higher in smokers as evidenced by flow cytometric assay. Glucose and DHA alone or together significantly reduced IcROS at higher rate in smokers. However, in presence of Glut 1 specific blocker, phloretin, neither glucose nor DHA could reduce IcROS in both non-smokers and smokers. This confirms that Glut 1 by transporting glucose or DHA attenuates IcROS. Therefore, we conclude that erythrocytes, although altered morphologically, also develop a defense system by upregulating Glut 1 to combat with enhanced Ic oxidative insult in cigarette smokers.

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