Phosphatidylserine (PS) is normally confined to the cytoplasmic leaflet of the red blood cell (RBC) membrane, but some sickle RBCs expose PS in the outer leaflet (PS+ cells). This study examined the relationships among PS externalization, fetal hemoglobin content, hydration state, and cell age. Sickle RBCs exhibit a wide range of PS externalization. Those with low-level exposure (type 1 PS+) include many young transferrin-receptor-positive (TfR+) cells. This is not specific for sickle cell disease because many nonsickle TfR+ cells are also PS+. RBCs with higher PS exposure (type 2 PS+) appear to be more specific for sickle cell disease. Their formation is most likely sickling dependent because type 2 PS+ dense sickle cells have a lower percentage of fetal hemoglobin (HbF) than PS- cells in the same density fraction (1.7 vs 2.9; n = 8; P < .01). In vivo experiments using biotin-labeled sickle cells showed a sharp decrease in the percentage of circulating, labeled PS+ cells in the first 24 hours after reinfusion. This decrease was confined to type 1 PS+ cells and was thus consistent with the reversal of PS exposure in very young cells. As the labeled cells aged in the circulation, the percentages of type 1 and type 2 PS+ cells increased. These studies indicate that PS externalization in sickle cells may be low level, as observed in many immature cells, or high level, which is associated with dehydration and appears to be more specific for sickle RBCs.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology