Physiologic impact of circulating RBC microparticles upon blood-vascular interactions

Ahmed S. Said, Stephen C. Rogers, Allan Doctor

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Here, we review current data elucidating the role of red blood cell derived microparticles (RMPs) in normal vascular physiology and disease progression. Microparticles (MPs) are submicron-size, membrane-encapsulated vesicles derived from various parent cell types. MPs are produced in response to numerous stimuli that promote a sequence of cytoskeletal and membrane phospholipid changes and resulting MP genesis. MPs were originally considered as potential biomarkers for multiple disease processes and more recently are recognized to have pleiotropic biological effects, most notably in: promotion of coagulation, production and handling of reactive oxygen species, immune modulation, angiogenesis, and in initiating apoptosis. RMPs, specifically, form normally during RBC maturation in response to injury during circulation, and are copiously produced during processing and storage for transfusion. Notably, several factors during RBC storage are known to trigger RMP production, including: increased intracellular calcium, increased potassium leakage, and energy failure with ATP depletion. Of note, RMP composition differs markedly from that of intact RBCs and the nature/composition of RMP components are affected by the specific circumstances of RMP genesis. Described RMP bioactivities include: promotion of coagulation, immune modulation, and promotion of endothelial adhesion as well as influence upon vasoregulation via influence upon nitric oxide (NO) bioavailability. Of particular relevance, RMPs scavenge NO more avidly than do intact RBCs; this physiology has been proposed to contribute to the impaired oxygen delivery homeostasis that may be observed following transfusion. In summary, RMPs are submicron particles released from RBCs, with demonstrated vasoactive properties that appear to disturb oxygen delivery homeostasis. The clinical impact of RMPs in normal and patho-physiology and in transfusion recipients is an area of continued investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1120
JournalFrontiers in Physiology
Issue numberJAN
StatePublished - Jan 12 2018


  • Blood flow
  • Endothelium
  • Erythrocytes
  • Microparticle
  • Nitric oxide
  • Red blood cells
  • Vasoregulation


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