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Volume 21, Issue 2, Pages 105-120

Necrotic and apoptotic volume changes of red blood cells investigated by low-angle light scattering technique

Igor V. Mindukshev,1 Vladimir V. Krivoshlyk,2 Elena E. Ermolaeva,3 Irina A. Dobrylko,1 Evgeniy V. Senchenkov,3 Nikolay V. Goncharov,3 Richard O. Jenkins,4,5 and Alexander I. Krivchenko1

1I.M. Sechenov Institute of Evolutionary Physiology and Biochemistry, Russian Academy of Sciences, St-Petersburg, Russia
2LUMEX Ltd, St-Petersburg, Russia
3Research Institute of Hygiene, Occupational Pathology and Human Ecology, St-Petersburg, Russia
4School of Allied Health Sciences, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK
5School of Allied Health Sciences, De Montfort University, Leicester, LE1 9BH, UK

Copyright © 2007 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


A low-angle light scattering technique, which has been applied previously to studies of blood platelets and Ehrlich ascite tumor cells, revealed differences in the dynamics of necrotic and apoptotic red blood cell death. Under hypotonic loading or in ammonia medium, red blood cells (RBC) swelled to a critical size (diameter approximately 13 μm) prior to hemolysis (necrosis). Under acidic loading, hemolysis occurred with less pronounced swelling of cells (diameter approximately 10 μm). Apoptosis induced by a calcium ionophore resulted in initial formation of echinocytes, followed by development of rounded red blood cells with uneven membrane, capable of agglomeration. In such a way, RBC aggregation can precede the final stages of the RBC apoptosis when small cellular fragments are generated. On the basis of erythrograms of the cells hemolysing in ammonia medium, the echinocytic (preapoptotic) and stomatocytic (prenecrotic) RBC were discerned due to the very high resistance of apoptotic RBC to osmotic (ammonia) loading.