Blood Transfusions: Stored Blood Becomes Less Functional With Time

Gabriel Popescu Associate Professor Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering & Bioengineering University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Beckman Institute for Advanced Science Urbana, IL 61801 MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Gabriel Popescu
Associate Professor
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering & Bioengineering
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Beckman Institute for Advanced Science Urbana, IL

Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study?

Prof. Popescu: We used a new imaging method, which combines microscopy and interferometry, to measure nanoscale fluctuations in the red blood cell membrane. We found that the fluctuations, known to be due to thermal or Brownian motion, decrease with blood storage time. These results indicate that the deformability of the cells degrades with time. It means that blood functionality is lower the longer the blood is stored.

Medical Research: Were any of the findings unexpected?

Prof. Popescu: One surprising aspect we found was that this stiffening of the cells appears without chance in morphology or hemoglobin concentration.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Prof. Popescu: Following blood transfusions, visual inspection by a hematologist involves smearing a droplet of blood between on a glass slide and studying the cells using optical microscopy. Abnormalities in cell shapes can be easily identified by this procedure. However, our results show that, even if the cells exhibit a normal, discocyte shape, they may function improperly due to the limited deformability. We believe that our test can be added to the menu of assays at the hematologist’s disposal.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Prof. Popescu: We would like to follow up with studies dedicated to understanding the molecular mechanism responsible for the cell stiffening during storage. Also, it would be very useful in clinical practice to come up with a drug that will restore the cell deformability, before it is administered to the patient.

Citation:
Optical Assay of Erythrocyte Function in Banked Blood
Basanta Bhaduri,Mikhail Kandel,Carlo Brugnara , Krishna Tangella & Gabriel Popescu

Scientific Reports 4, Article number: 6211

doi:10.1038/srep06211 Received 28 April 2014 Accepted 04 August 2014 Published 05 September 2014