Send to

Choose Destination
Cytometry B Clin Cytom. 2011 Jan;80(1):28-37. doi: 10.1002/cyto.b.20539.

A cytometric study of the red blood cells in Gaucher disease reveals their abnormal shape that may be involved in increased erythrophagocytosis.

Author information

National Institute for Biological Science Research and Development, Bucharest, Romania.



Gaucher disease is a sphingolipidosis caused by a deficiency of the enzyme glucocerebrosidase. Macrophages transform into pathogenic Gaucher cells following the phagocytosis of red blood cells (RBCs) and subsequent accumulation of glucosylceramide. Enhanced erythrophagocytosis is one feature of the disease indicating abnormal macrophage-RBC interactions. We hypothesized that the erythrophagocytosis observed in Gaucher disease may be at least partly due to abnormalities in the RBCs themselves.


To investigate this hypothesis, we used flow cytometry FSC/SSC to study RBCs sampled from seven patients with Gaucher disease in terms of their shape and the expression of markers of senescence and phagocytosis. Cells from two of the seven patients were evaluated before and 9 months after the start of enzyme-replacement therapy.


Untreated patients were found to have abnormal flow-cytometry profiles suggesting an alteration of Gaucher RBC morphology. Scanning electron microscopy confirmed this finding by revealing many abnormally shaped RBCs. Whereas there was no evidence of desialylation of membrane glycoconjugates or phosphatidylserine exposure, RBC viability (calcein-AM test) and CD47 expression were reduced. These anomalies found in RBCs sampled from two patients before treatment, were no longer present after a 9 month-long enzyme-replacement therapy.


We report on previously overlooked alterations of Gaucher RBCs that may facilitate erythrophagocytosis in untreated patients. Their potential role in the anemia, the excess of aggregation and rheological anomalies associated with Gaucher disease must now be addressed. RBC anomalies may take part in the abnormal crosstalk between RBCs and macrophages leading to the accumulation of Gaucher cells.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center