Modifications of Red Blood Cell Shape and Glycoproteins Membrane Content in Septic Patients

  • Michael Piagnerelli
  • Jean-Louis Vincent
  • Karim Zouaoui Boudjeltia
  • Danny Brohee
  • Michel Vanhaeverbeek
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 510)


The RBC must exhibit a remarkable ability to undergo cellular deformation, since its diameter (8 pm in humans) far exceeds that of the capillaries (2 to 3 pm) I. In sepsis, RBC deformability may be altered by extrinsic (interactions with leukocytesand the release of oxygen free radicals) and intrinsic factors (the increased production of nitric oxidean increase in free intracellular calciumand a decrease in adenosine triphosphate). An increase in 2,3 diphosphoglycerate (2,3 DPG) concentration may also destabilize RBC membrane protein interactions. RBC deformability is also influenced by the behavior of different proteins of the RBC membrane. An important transmembrane protein is glycophorin A which is highly glycosylated in the RBC. The two sialic acid residues (N-acetyl-neuraminic acid; SA) of each of these oligosaccharides, account for 60% of the negative charge of the RBC. Because of the negative charge on the RBC membrane surface due to SA, in physiologic conditions, RBCs normally repel each other and do not aggregate. The importance of SA on RBC shape is demonstrated by the observation that neuraminidase-treated cells, which release their membrane SA content, undergo increased aggregation and display a reduced mean curvature. Decreases in RBC membrane SA content have been demonstrated in RBCs of patients with diabetes mellitusas well as in senescent RBCs. The decrease in SA may explain the increase of RBC aggregability observed in diabetes mellitusbut effects of SA on alterations of RBC shape remain controversial.


Sialic Acid Septic Patient Sialic Acid Residue Sialic Acid Content Flow Cytometry Study 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Piagnerelli
    • 1
  • Jean-Louis Vincent
    • 1
  • Karim Zouaoui Boudjeltia
    • 2
  • Danny Brohee
    • 2
  • Michel Vanhaeverbeek
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Intensive Care MedicineErasme University HospitalBrussels
  2. 2.Experimental Medicine Laboratory. A. Vesale Hospital. 6110 Montigny-le-TilleulFree University of Brussels (ULB)Belgium

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