Exaggerated cation leak from oxygenated sickle red blood cells during deformation: Evidence for a unique leak pathway

T. Sugihara, R. P. Hebbel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


An abnormal susceptibility of the sickle red blood cell (RBC) membrane to deformation could compromise its permeability barrier function and contribute to the exuberant cation leakiness occurring during the sickling phenomenon. We examined this hypothesis by subjecting RBCs at ambient oxygen tension to elliptical deformation, applying shear stress in a viscous medium under physiologic conditions. Compared with normal and high-reticulocyte control RBCs, sickle RBCs manifest an exaggerated K leak response to deformation. This leak is fully reversible, is both Cl and Ca independent, and at pHe 7.4 is fully balanced so that Kefflux equals Nainflux. This abnormal susceptibility is also evident in that the K leak in response to deformation occurs at an applied shear stress of only 141 dyne/cm2 for sickle RBCs, as compared to 204 dyne/cm2 for normal RBCs. Fresh sickle RBC membranes contain elevated amounts of lipid hydroperoxide, the presence of which is believed to provide the biochemical basis for enhanced deformation susceptibility. When examined at pHe 6.8, oxygenated sickle RBCs acquire an additional, unbalanced (Kefflux > Nainflux) component to the K leak increment specifically ascribable to deformation. Studies with inhibitors suggest that this additional component is not caused by a known leak pathway (eg, either K.Cl cotransport or the Gardos channel). This abnormal susceptibility of the sickle membrane to development of cation leakiness during deformation probably contributes to the exuberant cation leak taking place during RBC sickling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2374-2378
Number of pages5
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 1 1992
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Exaggerated cation leak from oxygenated sickle red blood cells during deformation: Evidence for a unique leak pathway'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this