Development, validation, and potential applications of biotinylated red blood cells for posttransfusion kinetics and other physiological studies: evidenced-based analysis and recommendations

Transfusion. 2018 Aug;58(8):2068-2081. doi: 10.1111/trf.14647. Epub 2018 May 16.


The current reference method in the United States for measuring in vivo population red blood cell (RBC) kinetics utilizes chromium-51 (51 Cr) RBC labeling for determining RBC volume, 24-hour posttransfusion RBC recovery, and long-term RBC survival. Here we provide evidence supporting adoption of a method for kinetics that uses the biotin-labeled RBCs (BioRBCs) as a superior, versatile method for both regulatory and investigational purposes. RBC kinetic analysis using BioRBCs has important methodologic, analytical, and safety advantages over 51 Cr-labeled RBCs. We critically review recent advances in labeling human RBCs at multiple and progressively lower biotin label densities for concurrent, accurate, and sensitive determination of both autologous and allogeneic RBC population kinetics. BioRBC methods valid for RBC kinetic studies, including successful variations used by the authors, are presented along with pharmacokinetic modeling approaches for the accurate determination of RBC pharmacokinetic variables in health and disease. The advantages and limitations of the BioRBC method-including its capability of determining multiple BioRBC densities simultaneously in the same individual throughout the entire RBC life span-are presented and compared with the 51 Cr method. Finally, potential applications and limitations of kinetic BioRBC determinations are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biotinylation / methods*
  • Erythrocytes / metabolism*
  • Evidence-Based Practice
  • Humans
  • Kinetics*