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FEBS Open Bio. 2017 Feb 20;7(4):485-494. doi: 10.1002/2211-5463.12193. eCollection 2017 Apr.

Toxic effects of dimethyl sulfoxide on red blood cells, platelets, and vascular endothelial cells in vitro.

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Beijing Institute of Transfusion Medicine Beijing China.
Department of Transfusion Affiliated Hospital of Academy of Military Medical Sciences Beijing China.
Beijing Red Cross Blood Center Beijing China.


Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) is widely used in biological studies as a cryoprotective agent for cells and tissues, and also for cryopreserved platelets (PLTs). However, few data on the toxic effects of DMSO following intravenous infusion of cryopreserved PLTs are available. The aim of this study was to explore dose-related effects of DMSO on red blood cells (RBCs), PLTs and vascular endothelial cells in vitro. The results showed that DMSO treatments had significant effects on RBCs, affecting osmotic fragility and increasing hemolysis. Free hemoglobin (FHb) level of RBCs was 0.64 ± 0.19 g L-1 after incubation for 6 h with 0.6% DMSO, and these levels were elevated compared with controls (0.09 ± 0.05 g L-1). Aggregation of PLTs induced by adenosine diphosphate, thrombin (THR), and thrombin receptor activator peptide (TRAP) were inhibited by DMSO treatment because the THR generation capacity was reduced. The intensity of the cytosolic esterase-induced fluorescence response from carboxy dimethyl fluorescein diacetate (CMFDA) in PLTs was decreased about 29% ± 0.04% after treatment with DMSO. DMSO also inhibited the proliferation of the vascular endothelial cell line EAhy926 cells by blocking the G1 phase. Apoptosis of EAhy926 cells with 0.6% DMSO stimulation was increased threefold compared to controls. On the basis of these findings, it was concluded that DMSO was toxic to the hematologic system. This should be taken into account when assessing the infusion effects of cryopreserved PLTs or other blood products requiring DMSO as a vehicle, such as cryopreserved stem cells, in order to avoid adverse therapeutic effects.


EAhy926 cells; dimethyl sulfoxide; platelets; red blood cells

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