Evaluation of biochemical changes during in vivo erythrocyte senescence in the dog

Michael P. Rettig, P. S. Low Philip S., J. Aura Gimm, Narla Mohandas, Jiazhen Wang, John A. Christian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


One hypothesis to explain the age-dependent clearance of red blood cells (RBCs) from circulation proposes that denatured/oxidized hemoglobin (hemichromes) arising late during an RBC's life span induces clustering of the integral membrane protein, band 3. In turn, band 3 clustering generates an epitope on the senescent cell surface leading to autologous IgG binding and consequent phagocytosis. Because dog RBCs have survival characteristics that closely resemble those of human RBCs (ie, low random RBC loss, ≃115- day life span), we decided to test several aspects of the above hypothesis in the canine model, where in vivo aged cells of defined age could be evaluated for biochemical changes. For this purpose, dog RBCs were biotinylated in vivo and retrieved for biochemical analysis at various later dates using avidin- coated magnetic beads. Consistent with the above hypothesis, senescent dog RBCs were found to contain measurably elevated membrane-bound (denatured) globin and a sevenfold enhancement of surface-associated autologous IgG. Interestingly, dog RBCs that were allowed to senesce for 115 days in vivo also suffered from compromised intracellular reducing power, containing only 30% of the reduced glutathione found in unfractionated cells. Although the small quantity of cells of age ≥110 days did not allow direct quantitation of band 3 clustering, it was nevertheless possible to exploit single-cell microdeformation methods to evaluate the fraction of band 3 molecules that had lost their normal skeletal linkages and were free to cluster in response to hemichrome binding. Importantly, band 3 in RBCs ≥ 112 days old was found to be 25% less restrained by skeletal interactions than band 3 in control cells, indicating that the normal linkages between band 3 and the membrane skeleton had been substantially disrupted. Interestingly, the protein 4.1a/protein 4.1b ratio, commonly assumed to reflect RBC age, was found to be maximal in RBCs isolated only 58 days after labeling, implying that while this marker is useful for identifying very young populations of RBCs, it is not a very sensitive marker for canine senescent RBCs. Taken together, these data argue that several of the readily testable elements of the above hypothesis implicating band 3 in human RBC senescence can be validated in an appropriate canine model.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)376-384
Number of pages9
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1999


Dive into the research topics of 'Evaluation of biochemical changes during in vivo erythrocyte senescence in the dog'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this