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We have studied dense erythrocytes separated on Arabinogalactan (Stractan) ultracentrifuged gradients in flame-burned patients and in normal individuals. In each case, the percentage of erythrocytes in the densest layers was increased when compared to age and sex matched controls. Using an in vitro system, we showed that as human whole blood is warmed to 48.6°C, the number of dense erythrocytes increases. In addition, the reduced glutathionine (GSH) content of the densest red blood cells is decreased compared to those in lighter fractions on the same gradient or to dense erythrocytes separated from blood incubated at room temperature. These dense red cells were largely composed of spherocytes and spheroechynocytes, two forms of erythrocytes which have been shown by others to have markedly abnormal flow characteristics in vitro. We have demonstrated that in vivo dense erythrocytes can be generated in the setting of flame burns. Thus, the underlying reason may be oxidant injury as represented by the reduced level of GSH that we found in association with the generation of dense erythrocytes.


Arturo P Saavedra, James A Warth, John F Burke, Kathryn J Norton, Jeffrey A Gelfand. Increased dense erythrocytes in flame-burned patients. Clinical hemorheology and microcirculation. 2013;53(4):349-56

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PMID: 22596230

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