• Canine;
  • cholesterol;
  • lipid;
  • RBC


The capacity of RBCs to traverse endothelium and deliver oxygen to tissues is dependent on a mechanically stable yet flexible plasma membrane. The lipid composition of the RBC membrane is crucial in maintaining its structure and fluidity. Lacking a nucleus and having minimal synthetic capacity, RBCs are exquisitely sensitive to changes in plasma lipids.


The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of plasma lipids on RBC fragility in hyperlipidemic and dyslipidemic dogs.


Osmotic fragility of RBCs, plasma lipoprotein fractions, and cholesterol and phospholipid content of RBC membranes were measured in hyperlipidemic, dyslipidemic, and healthy control dogs. Osmotic fragility of normal canine RBCs incubated in phosphate-buffered saline and in both intact and lipid-depleted plasma from diabetic dogs was also measured.


RBCs from hyperlipidemic and dyslipidemic dogs with diabetes mellitus and dogs treated with glucocorticoids were significantly more fragile than RBCs from healthy control dogs. RBCs from hyperlipidemic dogs with cholestatic disease tended to be more stable relative to RBCs from controls. RBC osmotic fragility was positively correlated with beta-lipoprotein levels, but was only weakly correlated with serum cholesterol concentration. Incubation in plasma from hyperlipidemic diabetic dogs rendered RBCs from healthy dogs osmotically fragile, whereas lipid-depleted plasma from the same diabetic dogs had no effect.


RBCs from hyperlipidemic and dyslipidemic dogs are osmotically fragile, and fragility is highly correlated with increases in beta-lipoproteins. Future studies are planned to address the consequences of lipid-induced fragility and subclinical hemolysis on endothelial cells, platelets, and coagulation.