Purpose: Storage and ionizing radiation of human red blood cells (RBC) produce alterations on RBC membranes and modify their normal shape and functionality. We investigated early morphological and biochemical changes in RBC due to those stressing agents at the nanoscale level and their impact on blood quality. Materials and methods: Whole blood samples from healthy donors were γ-irradiated with 15, 25, 35, and 50 Gy. Non-irradiated and non-stored RBC were used as control samples. Irradiated blood samples were stored separately at 4 °C and analyzed immediately and after 5 and 13 d. Atomic force microscopy (AFM), osmotic fragility and Raman spectroscopy were used to detect morphological and biochemical changes. Results: RBC function is challenged by both irradiation and storage. The storage procedure caused nanometric variations over the surface of RBC membrane for both irradiated and non-irradiated cells. The membrane of RBC became more fragile, while the biochemical fingerprint of hemoglobin (Hb) remained unaltered. Conclusions: Our work shows that the irradiation procedure leads to an increase in the number and size of nanovesicles along with the dose. The functionality of RBC can be affected from changes in the roughness, becoming more fragile and susceptible to breakage.
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- osmotic fragility
- Raman spectroscopy