Toxicological Reviews

, Volume 23, Issue 3, pp 169–188 | Cite as

Oxidant Stress and Haemolysis of the Human Erythrocyte

  • Marco L. A. Sivilotti
Review Article


The erythrocyte is a highly specialised cell with a limited metabolic repertoire. As an oxygen shuttle, it must continue to perform this essential task while exposed to a wide range of environments on each vascular circuit, and to a variety of xenobiotics across its lifetime. During this time, it must continuously ward off oxidant stress on the haeme iron, the globin chain and on other essential cellular molecules. Haemolysis, the acceleration of the normal turnover of senescent erythrocytes, follows severe and irreversible oxidant injury. A detailed understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying oxidant injury and its reversal, and of the clinical and laboratory features of haemolysis is important to the medical toxicologist. This review will also briefly review glucose-6-phosphate deficiency, a common but heterogeneous range of enzyme-deficient states, which impairs the ability of the erythrocyte to respond to oxidant injury.


Haemolytic Anaemia Primaquine Hereditary Spherocytosis Methaemoglobin Intravascular Haemolysis 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The author is grateful to Ms Mary Lee for artwork and Dr John H. Matthews for the peripheral blood smears. No sources of funding were used to assist in the preparation of this review. The author has no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the content of this review.


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Copyright information

© Adis Data Information BV 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departments of Emergency Medicine, and of Pharmacology and ToxicologyQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada
  2. 2.Ontario Regional Poison Information CentreTorontoCanada

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