Red blood cells release factors with growth and survival bioactivities for normal and leukemic T cells

Immunol Cell Biol. 2011 Jan;89(1):111-21. doi: 10.1038/icb.2010.60. Epub 2010 May 4.


Human red blood cells are emerging as a cell type capable to regulate biological processes of neighboring cells. Hereby, we show that human red blood cell conditioned media contains bioactive factors that favor proliferation of normal activated T cells and leukemic Jurkat T cells, and therefore called erythrocyte-derived growth and survival factors. Flow cytometry and electron microscopy in parallel with bioactivity assays revealed that the erythrocyte factors are present in the vesicle-free supernatant, which contains up to 20 different proteins. The erythrocyte factors are thermosensitive and do not contain lipids. Native polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis followed by passive elution and mass spectrometry identification reduced the potential erythrocyte factors to hemoglobin and peroxiredoxin II. Two-dimensional differential gel electrophoresis of the erythrocyte factors revealed the presence of multiple hemoglobin oxy-deoxy states and peroxiredoxin II isoforms differing in their isoelectric point akin to the presence of β-globin chains. Our results show that red blood cells release protein factors with the capacity to sustain T-cell growth and survival. These factors may have an unforeseen role in sustaining malignant cell growth and survival in vivo.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cell Survival
  • Erythrocytes / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Jurkat Cells
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism*