Variable adhesion of different red blood cell products to activated vascular endothelium under flow conditions

Am J Hematol. 2007 Jun;82(6):439-45. doi: 10.1002/ajh.20837.


Red blood cells (RBCs) that have been stored prior to transfusion show increased adherence to vascular endothelium in vitro, which suggests a potential for stored blood transfusion to impede blood flow in some patients. Transfusion is often required in patients with sepsis or inflammation; however, whether activation of endothelium affects stored RBC-endothelial cell (EC) interactions is unknown. We investigated whether storage time and leukocyte content of RBC products influences the adhesion of RBCs to activated ECs. RBCs from nonleukocyte-reduced (S-RBCs), buffy-coat-poor (BCP-RBCs), and leukocyte-filtered (LF-RBCs) products and cultured EC layers were pretreated with endotoxin, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), or medium alone prior to perfusion of the RBCs across the EC layer in a continuous flow microchamber. After a single day of RBC storage, the number of adherent RBCs was increased in the endotoxin and TNF-alpha pretreated groups compared to the unactivated-control group. These differences were statistically significant for S-RBCs and LF-RBC products (P < 0.05). In contrast, there was no significant difference in RBC adherence to activated and unactivated endothelium at other time-points of RBC product storage. The strength of adhesion of stored RBCs from S-RBC products to activated ECs was not altered following treatment; however, endotoxin significantly increased the adhesive strength of LF-RBCs to endothelium. These results demonstrate that while fresh RBCs show increased adhesion to activated endothelium, storage of RBCs did not promote increased adhesion to activated endothelium. However, inflammatory conditions promote stronger adhesion of stored RBCs to ECs, which may contribute to impaired tissue perfusion in some transfusion recipients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Blood Component Removal
  • Blood Preservation*
  • Cell Adhesion / drug effects
  • Cell Adhesion / physiology
  • Endothelial Cells / cytology
  • Endothelial Cells / physiology*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / cytology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / drug effects
  • Endothelium, Vascular / physiology*
  • Endotoxins / pharmacology
  • Erythrocyte Transfusion
  • Erythrocytes / cytology
  • Erythrocytes / drug effects
  • Erythrocytes / physiology*
  • Fetal Blood
  • Humans
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / pharmacology


  • Endotoxins
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha