Nonheme iron in sickle erythrocyte membranes: Association with phospholipids and potential role in lipid peroxidation

S. A. Kuross, Robert P Hebbel

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Previous studies documented the abnormal association of heme and heme proteins which the sickle RBC membrane. We have now examined RBC ghosts and inside-out membranes (IOM) for the presence of nonheme iron as detected by its formation of a colored complex with ferrozine. Sickle ghosts have 33.8 ± 18.2 nmol nonheme iron/mg membrane protein, and sickle IOM have 4.3 ± 3.0 nmol/mg. In contrast, normal RBC ghosts and IOM have no detectable nonheme iron. The combination of heme and nonheme iron in sickle IOM averages nine times the amount of membrane-associated iron in normal IOM. Kinetics of the ferrozine reaction show that some of this nonheme iron on IOM reacts slowly and is probably in the form of ferritin, but most (72% ± 18%) reacts rapidly and is in the form of some other biologic chelate. The latter iron compartment is removed by deferoxamine and by treatment of IOM with phospholipase D, which suggests that it represents an abnormal association of iron with polar head groups of aminophospholipids. The biologic feasibility of such a chelate was demonstrated by using an admixture of iron with model liposomes. Even in the presence of tenfold excess adenosine diphosphate, iron partitions readily into phosphatidylserine liposomes; there is no detectable association with phosphatidylcholine liposomes. To examine the bioavailability of membrane iron, we admixed membranes and t-butylhydroperoxide and found that sickle membranes show a tenfold greater peroxidation response than do normal membranes. This is not due simply to a deficiency of vitamin E, and this is profoundly inhibited by deferoxamine. Thus, while thiol oxidation in sickle membranes previously was shown to correlate with heme iron, the present data suggest that lipid peroxidation is related to nonheme iron. In control studies, we did not find this pathologic association of nonferritin, nonheme iron with IOM prepared from sickle trait, high-reticulocyte, postsplenectomy, or iron-overloaded individuals. These data provide additional support for the concept that iron decompartmentalization is a characteristic of sickle RBCs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1278-1285
Number of pages8
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1988


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