Unit-to-unit variability in the deformability of red blood cells

Gregory Barshtein*, Alexander Gural, Orly Zelig, Dan Arbell, Saul Yedgar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: In blood banking practice, the storage duration is used as the primary criterion for inventory management, and usually, the packed red blood cells (PRBC) units are supplied primarily according to first-in-first-out (FIFO) principle. However, the actual functionality of individual PRBC units is mostly ignored. One of the main features of the RBCs not accounted for under this approach is the deformability of the red cells, i.e., their ability to affect the recipients' blood flow. The objective of the study was to analyze unit-to-unit variability in the deformability of PRBCs during their cold storage. Methods: RBC samples were obtained from twenty leukoreduced PRBC units, stored in SAGM. The deformability of cells was monitored from the day of donation throughout 42 days. RBC deformability was determined using the computerized cell flow-properties analyzer (CFA) based on cell elongation under a shear stress of 3.0 Pa, expressed by the elongation-ratio (ER). The image analysis determines the ER for each cell and provides the ER distribution in the population of 3000–6000 cells. Results: The deformability of freshly-collected RBCs exhibited marked variability already on the day of donation. We also found that the aging curve of PRBC deformability varies significantly among donors. Significance: The present study has demonstrated that storage duration is only one of the factors, and seemingly not even the major one, affecting the PRBCs functionality. Therefore, the FIFO approach is not sufficient for assessing the potential transfusion outcome, and the PRBC functionality should be determined explicitly for each unit.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number102876
JournalTransfusion and Apheresis Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020


  • Donor-to-donor variability
  • RBC deformability
  • Red blood cells
  • Storage of RBC


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