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Front Physiol. 2013 Dec 18;4:376. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2013.00376.

Survival of red blood cells after transfusion: processes and consequences.

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Department of Biochemistry, Radboud University Medical Centre Nijmegen, Netherlands.


THE CURRENTLY AVAILABLE DATA SUGGEST THAT EFFORTS TOWARD IMPROVING THE QUALITY OF RED BLOOD CELL (RBC) BLOOD BANK PRODUCTS SHOULD CONCENTRATE ON: (1) preventing the removal of a considerable fraction of the transfused RBCs that takes place within the first hours after transfusion; (2) minimizing the interaction of the transfused RBCs with the patient's immune system. These issues are important in reducing the number and extent of the damaging side effects of transfusions, such as generation of alloantibodies and autoantibodies and iron accumulation, especially in transfusion-dependent patients. Thus, it becomes important for blood bank research not only to assess the classical RBC parameters for quality control during storage, but even more so to identify the parameters that predict RBC survival, function and behavior in the patient after transfusion. These parameters are likely to result from elucidation of the mechanisms that underly physiological RBC aging in vivo, and that lead to the generation of senescent cell antigens and the accumulation of damaged molecules in vesicles. Also, study of RBC pathology-related mechanisms, such as encountered in various hemoglobinopathies and membranopathies, may help to elucidate the mechanisms underlying a storage-associated increase in susceptibility to physiological stress conditions. Recent data indicate that a combination of new approaches in vitro to mimick RBC behavior in vivo, the growing knowledge of the signaling networks that regulate RBC structure and function, and the rapidly expanding set of proteomic and metabolomic data, will be instrumental to identify the storage-associated processes that control RBC survival after transfusion.


aging; autoimmunity; erythrocyte; membrane; transfusion; vesicle

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