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Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2000 Oct;279(4):C970-80.

Adaptation and survival of surface-deprived red blood cells in mice.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology and Physiology, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, New York 14642, USA.


The consequences of lost membrane area for long-term erythrocyte survival in the circulation were investigated. Mouse red blood cells were treated with lysophosphatidylcholine to reduce membrane area, labeled fluorescently, reinfused into recipient mice, and then sampled periodically for 35 days. The circulating fraction of the modified cells decreased on an approximately exponential time course, with time constants ranging from 2 to 14 days. The ratio of volume to surface area of the surviving cells, measured using micropipettes, decreased rapidly over the first 5 days after infusion to within 5% of normal. This occurred by both preferential removal of the most spherical cells and modification of others, possibly due to membrane stress developed during transient trapping of cells in the microvasculature. After 5 days, the cell area decreased with time in the circulation, but the ratio of volume to surface area remained essentially constant. These results demonstrate that the ratio of cell volume to surface area is a major determinant of the ability of erythrocytes to circulate properly.

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