BACKGROUND: Safe, accurate methods permitting simultaneous and/or repeated measurement of red blood cell (RBC) survival (RCS) are important to investigate pathophysiology and therapy of anemia. Methods using chromium 51 (51Cr)-labeled RBCs are unacceptable for infants, children, and pregnant women. We report RCS measured in vivo using RBCs labeled with several densities of biotin (BioRBCs).
STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: Aliquots of autologous RBCs from eight healthy adult subjects were labeled separately at four discrete biotin densities, mixed, and infused. The proportion of each population of BioRBCs circulating was determined serially by flow cytometry over 20 weeks. For each population, RCS was assessed by the following: 1) posttransfusion BioRBC recovery at 24 hours (PTR24); 2) time to decrease to 50% of the enrichment at 24 hours (T50); and 3) mean potential lifespan (MPL).
RESULTS: Among the four BioRBC densities, no significant differences in PTR24 were observed. T50 and MPL were similar for the two lowest BioRBC densities. In contrast, the two highest BioRBC densities demonstrated progressively decreased T50 and MPL.
CONCLUSIONS: RBCs labeled at four biotin densities can be used to independently and accurately measure PTR24 and two lowest biotin densities can accurately quantitate long-term RCS. This method provides a tool for investigating anemia in infants, fetuses, and pregnant women with the following advantages over the standard 51Cr method: 1) study subjects are not exposed to radiation; 2) small blood volumes (e.g., 20 µL) are required; and 3) multiple independent RCS measurements can be made simultaneously in the same individual.