Optimizing interpretation of survival studies of fresh and aged transfused biotin-labeled RBCs

Albert D. Donnenberg, Daniel B. Kim-Shapiro, Tamir Kanias, Linda R. Moore, Joseph E. Kiss, Janet S. Lee, Zeyu Xiong, Ling Wang, Darrell J. Triulzi, Mark T. Gladwin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Ex vivo labeling with 51chromium represents the standard method to determine red blood cell (RBC) survival after transfusion. Limitations and safety concerns spurred the development of alternative methods, including biotinylated red blood cells (BioRBC). Study Design and Methods: Autologous units of whole blood were divided equally into two bags and stored under standard blood bank conditions at 2 to 6°C (N = 4 healthy adult volunteers). One bag was biotinylated (15 μg/ml) on storage days 5 to 7 (fresh) and the other was biotinylated (3 μg/ml) on days 35 to 42 (aged). The proportion of circulating BioRBC was measured serially, and cell-surface biotin was quantified with reference to molecules of equivalent soluble fluorochrome. Clearance kinetics were modeled by RBC age distribution at infusion (Gaussian vs. uniform) and decay over time (constant vs. exponential). Results: Data were consistent with biphasic exponential clearance of cells of uniform age. Our best estimate of BioRBC clearance (half-life [T1/2]) was 49.7 ± 1.2 days initially, followed by more rapid clearance 82 days after transfusion (T1/2 = 15.6 ± 0.6 days). As BioRBC aged in vivo, molecules of equivalent soluble fluorochrome declined with a T1/2 of 122 ± 9 days, suggesting gradual biotin cleavage. There were no significant differences between the clearance of fresh and aged BioRBC. Conclusion: Similar clearance kinetics of fresh and aged BioRBC may be due to the extensive washing required during biotinylation. Survival kinetics consistent with cells with uniform rather than Gaussian or other non-uniform age distributions suggest that washing, and potentially RBC culling, may extend the storage life of RBC products.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-46
Number of pages12
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • RBC clearance
  • RBC lifespan
  • RBC storage
  • biotinylation


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