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Eur J Histochem. 2020 Jan 21;64(1). doi: 10.4081/ejh.2020.3081.

Nuclear factor-kB and nitric oxide synthases in red blood cells: good or bad in obesity? A preliminary study.

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Department of Medical and Clinical Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, P.J. Šafárik University, Košice.


Emerging evidence suggests that red blood cells (RBCs) are involved in many functions essential for life. Nuclear factor-kB (NF-kB), nitric oxide synthases (inducible nitric oxide synthase -iNOS-, endothelial nitric oxide synthase -eNOS-) and interleukin-1β (-IL-1β-) are all proteins that have been identified in RBCs. In nucleated cells, such as white blood cells (WBCs), these proteins have well investigated roles, linked to stress and inflammation. It is not the same in erythrocytes, for this reason, we considered obese patients for studying the morphology of RBCs. We studied a possible correlation between their morphological changes and several protein expressions. Moreover, we compared the results about the aforementioned proteins and antioxidant markers with those obtained in WBCs from healthy and obese patients before and after omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation. This latter scientific point is important in order to determine whether there are differences in the expression of nucleated and anucleated cells. The morphology of RBCs changed in obese patients, but it is significantly restored after six weeks of supplementation. The expression of antioxidant enzymes changed in RBCs and WBCs in obesity but all proteins restore their positivity after supplementation. We found that: the presence of NF-kB, antioxidant enzymes and eNOS in healthy RBCs could indicate a role of these proteins as regulators of cellular metabolism; obese WBCs showed a higher NF-kB, iNOS and IL-1β positivity, whereas eNOS presence did not significantly change in these cells. We tried to explain the different positivity of NF-kB, proposing a dual role for this protein, as prolifespan and as proinflammatory processes, depending on examined cells. In conclusion, we have considered the literature that focuses on the omega-6/omega-3 ratio. The ratio changed from the past, especially in people whose diet is strongly westernized worsening the state of health of the patient and leading to an higher incidence of obesity. Our study hypothesizes that the supplementation could help to restore the correct ratio.

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