• 2,3-DPG;
  • haemoglobin;
  • oxygen dissociation;
  • rate constants;
  • red blood cell;
  • storage lesion

Objectives: To contribute to the understanding of the biochemical changes associated with the RBC storage lesion.

Aim: To investigate changes in O2 equilibrium and on/off kinetic rates during routine cold storage.

Background: As RBCs are stored between 1 and 6°C numerous biochemical changes occur within the RBCs, including changes in the properties of the haemoglobin itself. This study serially analysed for the first time the O2 equilibrium and on/off kinetic rates across the RBC membrane during routine storage.

Methods/Materials: The oxygen binding (kon) and offloading (koff) constants were measured in fresh RBCs and then in AS-5-preserved RBCs at weekly intervals, along with oxygen equilibrium curves (OECs), 2,3-Diphosphoglycerate (2,3-DPG), p50 and the Hill number (n).

Results: The kon increased slightly as the 2,3-DPG and p50 decreased during storage, whereas the koff remained largely unchanged. The OECs demonstrated the expected increase in O2 affinity, whereas the Hill number was unchanged during storage.

Conclusion: In spite of the biochemical, structural and functional changes associated with the storage of RBCs, their in vitro interactions with oxygen were largely preserved through 42 days of storage.