The Mechanism of Enzyme Decline in the Red Blood Cell During the “In Vivo” Aging Process

  • Sergio Piomelli
  • Carol Seaman
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 307)


While it is recognized that the human red blood cell (RBC) has a finite life-span of approximately 120 days, the mechanism that controls its ultimate removal from the circulation remains largely unknown. A better understanding of the process of RBC senescence can be obtained by the study of cohorts of cells of progressively increasing age. Our laboratory has utilized for this purpose separation of RBC into groups of progressively increasing specific gravity utilizing buoyant density gradients (1,2). This technique has been validated by experiments with 14C-glycine cohort-labelled RBC that have demonstrated a progressive movement of the label from the top to the bottom with cell age (1) as well as by in vivo experiments of RBC survival that have demonstrated that the lighest RBC have the longest survival and the heaviest ones, the shortest (3). On the basis of these data a mathematical model has been designed to interpret, in terms of in vivo survival, the changes observed in parameters of RBC of progressively increasing gravity (4). Studies from our laboratory suggested that one of the mechanisms for the removal from the circulation of senescent RBC is a progressive decline of metabolic activities (5).


Discontinuous Density Gradient Erythropoietic Protoporphyria Buoyant Density Gradient Biphasic Rate 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sergio Piomelli
    • 1
  • Carol Seaman
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Pediatric Hematology OncologyColumbia University College of Physicians & SurgeonsNew YorkUSA

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