BLOOD DONORS AND BLOOD COLLECTION
The effect of frequent whole blood donation on ferritin, hepcidin, and subclinical atherosclerosis
- From the Department of Donor Studies, Sanquin Research, Nijmegen; the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and HTA, the Department of Endocrinology, the Department of General Internal Medicine, Division of Vascular Medicine, and the Department of Laboratory Medicine, Laboratory of Genetic, Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Nijmegen, the Netherlands; and the Department of Internal Medicine, Endocrinology Section, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
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Iron catalyzes the formation of free radicals, which could lead to damaged vascular walls and subsequent atherosclerosis. Blood donation decreases iron stores and can thus decrease cardiovascular risk. Even within blood donors, differences in stored iron are observed. This study investigates whether increasing lifetime number of donations decreases the extent of subclinical atherosclerosis within blood donors.
Study design and methods
Subclinical atherosclerosis was evaluated in 269 blood donors by measuring intima–media thickness (IMT), pulse-wave velocity (PWV), and ankle–brachial index (ABI). Lifetime number of whole blood donations was categorized into sex-specific donation tertiles.
Ferritin and hepcidin were lower in high-frequency donors compared to low-frequency donors. Donors in the third sex-specific donation tertile had on average a 0.3% (95% confidence interval [CI], −3.6 to +3.0%) lower IMT, a 2.1% (95% CI, −3.9 to +8.0%) higher PWV, and a 1.5% (95% CI, −1.4 to +4.5%) higher ABI compared to donors in the first sex-specific donation tertile.
With such small differences and no consistent trend across donation groups, it cannot be concluded that blood donation has a beneficial effect on the extent of subclinical atherosclerosis.