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Does the extracorporeal circulation worsen anemia in hemodialysis patients? Investigation with advanced microscopes of red blood cells drawn at the beginning and end of dialysis

Authors Stamopoulos D, Bakirtzi N, Manios E, Grapsa E

Received 13 June 2013

Accepted for publication 23 July 2013

Published 11 October 2013 Volume 2013:8(1) Pages 3887—3894

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/IJN.S49845

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Dimosthenis Stamopoulos,1 Nerantzoula Bakirtzi,2,3 Efthymios Manios,1 Eirini Grapsa4

1Institute of Advanced Materials, Physicochemical Processes, Nanotechnology and Microsystems, National Center for Scientific Research 'Demokritos,' Athens, Greece; 2Department of Nephrology, Hospital 'G. Gennimatas,' Athens, Greece; 3Renal Unit, Hospital 'Alexandra,' Athens, Greece; 4Renal Unit, Hospital 'Aretaieion,' Athens, Greece

Background: In hemodialysis (HD) patients, anemia relates to three main factors: insufficient production of erythropoietin; impaired management of iron; and decreased lifespan of red blood cells (RBCs). The third factor can relate to structural deterioration of RBCs due to extrinsic (extracorporeal circuit; biochemical activation and/or mechanical stress during dialysis) and intrinsic (uremic milieu; biochemical interference of the RBC membrane constituents with toxins) mechanisms. Herein, we evaluate information accessed with advanced imaging techniques at the cellular level.
Methods: Atomic force and scanning electron microscopes were employed to survey intact RBCs (iRBCs) of seven HD patients in comparison to seven healthy donors. The extrinsic factor was investigated by contrasting pre- and post-HD samples. The intrinsic environment was investigated by comparing the microscopy data with the clinical ones.
Results: The iRBC membranes of the enrolled HD patients were overpopulated with orifice-like (high incidence; typical size within 100–1,000 nm) and crevice-like (low incidence; typical size within 500–4,000 nm) defects that exhibited a statistically significant (P < 0.05) relative increase (+55% and +350%, respectively) in respect to healthy donors. The relative variation of the orifice and crevice indices (mean population of orifices and crevices per top membrane surface) between pre- and post-HD was not statistically significant (−3.3% and +4.5%, respectively). The orifice index correlates with the concentrations of urea, calcium, and phosphorus, but not, however, with that of creatinine.
Conclusion: Extracorporeal circulation is not detrimental to the structural integrity of RBC membranes. Uremic milieu is a candidate cause of RBC membrane deterioration, which possibly worsens anemia.

Keywords: hemodialysis, anemia, red blood cells, atomic force microscopy, scanning electron microscopy

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