Washing in hypotonic saline reduces the fraction of irreversibly-damaged cells in stored blood: a proof-of-concept study


Background During hypothermic storage, a substantial fraction of red blood cells (RBCs) transforms from flexible discocytes to rigid sphero-echinocytes and spherocytes. Infusion of these irreversibly-damaged cells into the recipient during transfusion serves no therapeutic purpose and may contribute to adverse outcomes in some patients. In this proof-of-concept study we describe the use of hypotonic washing for selective removal of the irreversibly-damaged cells from stored blood. Materials and methods Stored RBCs were mixed with saline of various concentrations to identify optimal concentration for inducing osmotic swelling and selective bursting of spherical cells (sphero-echinocytes, spherocytes), while minimising indiscriminate lysis of other RBCs. Effectiveness of optimal treatment was assessed by measuring morphology, rheological properties, and surface phosphatidylserine (PS) exposure for cells from several RBCs units (n=5, CPD>AS-1, leucoreduced, 6 weeks storage duration) washed in hypotonic vs isotonic saline. Results Washing in mildly hypotonic saline (0.585 g/dL, osmolality: 221.7±2.3 mmol/kg) reduced the fraction of spherical cells 3-fold from 9.5±3.4% to 3.2±2.8%, while cutting PS exposure in half from 1.48±0.86% to 0.59±0.29%. Isotonic washing had no effect on PS exposure or the fraction of spherical cells. Both isotonic and hypotonic washing increased the fraction of well-preserved cells (discocytes, echinocytes 1) substantially, and improved the ability of stored RBCs to perfuse an artificial microvascular network by approximately 25%, as compared with the initial sample. Discussion This study demonstrated that washing in hypotonic saline could selectively remove a significant fraction of the spherical and PS-exposing cells from stored blood, while significantly improving the rheological properties of remaining well-preserved RBCs. Further studies are needed to access the potential effect from hypotonic washing on transfusion outcomes.



red blood cells, hypothermic storage, washing, hypotonic saline


Copyright 2017 Blood Transfusion. Recommended citation: Xia, Hui, Grishma Khanal, Briony C. Strachan, Eszter Vörös, Nathaniel Z. Piety, Sean C. Gifford, and Sergey S. Shevkoplyas. "Washing in hypotonic saline reduces the fraction of irreversibly-damaged cells in stored blood: a proof-of-concept study." Blood Transfusion 15, no. 5 (2017): 463. DOI: 10.2450/2017.0013-17 URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5589709/pdf/btl-15_463.pdf Reproduced in accordance with the original publisher’s licensing terms and with permission from the author(s).