Phthalate Esters Used as Plasticizers in Packed Red Blood Cell Storage Bags May Lead to Progressive Toxin Exposure and the Release of Pro-Inflammatory Cytokines
Phthalate esters (PE's) are plasticizers used to soften PVC-based medical devices. PE's are the most abundant man-made pollutants and increase the risk of developing an allergic respiratory disease or a malignancy. The leaching of PE's in donated packed red blood cells (PRBC) during storage was assessed. PRBC transfusion bags containing CPD/AS-1 (ADSOL) buffer were analyzed. Samples were collected on storage day 1 and day 42. Two PE's, di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) and mono-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (MEHP), were measured by liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry (LCMS). Interleukin-8 (IL-8) was measured by standard ELISA techniques. DEHP significantly increased from 34.3 µM (±20.0 SD) on day 1 to 433.2 µM (±131.2 SD) on day 42, a 12.6-fold increase. Similarly, MEHP significantly increased from 3.7 µM (±2.8 SD) on day 1 to 74.0 µM (±19.1 SD) on day 42, a 20.2-fold increase. Also, DEHP and MEHP increased the release of IL-8 from human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC). The transfusion of older units of PRBC could lead to an accumulation of PE's possibly resulting in inflammation and other effects. This accumulation could be exacerbated due to the decreased metabolism of PE's since trauma patients have a lower esterase activity, the enzymes responsible for metabolizing PE's. The effect of oxidative stress caused by PE's is discussed as a potential mechanism for increases in inflammation caused by older units of PRBC.
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