Hemoglobin Binding to the Red Blood Cell (RBC) Membrane Is Associated with Decreased Cell Deformability

Gregory Barshtein*, Leonid Livshits, Alexander Gural, Dan Arbell, Refael Barkan, Ivana Pajic-Lijakovic, Saul Yedgar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The deformability of red blood cells (RBCs), expressing their ability to change their shape as a function of flow-induced shear stress, allows them to optimize oxygen delivery to the tissues and minimize their resistance to flow, especially in microcirculation. During physiological aging and blood storage, or under external stimulations, RBCs undergo metabolic and structural alterations, one of which is hemoglobin (Hb) redistribution between the cytosol and the membrane. Consequently, part of the Hb may attach to the cell membrane, and although this process is reversible, the increase in membrane-bound Hb (MBHb) can affect the cell’s mechanical properties and deformability in particular. In the present study, we examined the correlation between the MBHb levels, determined by mass spectroscopy, and the cell deformability, determined by image analysis. Six hemoglobin subunits were found attached to the RBC membranes. The cell deformability was negatively correlated with the level of four subunits, with a highly significant inter-correlation between them. These data suggest that the decrease in RBC deformability results from Hb redistribution between the cytosol and the cell membrane and the respective Hb interaction with the cell membrane.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5814
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 by the authors.


  • RBC deformability
  • hemoglobin
  • membrane-bound hemoglobin
  • red blood cells


Dive into the research topics of 'Hemoglobin Binding to the Red Blood Cell (RBC) Membrane Is Associated with Decreased Cell Deformability'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this