In order to analyse a possible role of anti-spectrin antibodies in the clearance of aged red blood cells (RBC), a homologous system was employed, whereby a population of aged RBC, obtained by hypertransfusion, was injected into rats bearing a high level of anti-spectrin antibodies, following immunization with spectrin. The aged RBC bound the anti-spectrin antibodies 'in vitro' and were eliminated from circulation in spectrin-treated rats at a faster rate than in control rats with naturally occurring antibodies. The analysis of the clearance curves revealed aged RBC of heterogeneous lifespans: two principal populations of short- and longer-living could be identified. In rats with anti-spectrin antibodies, the survival of the short-living population was further reduced. However, the similar kinetics of elimination of aged RBC in the two groups (with naturally-occurring and induced antibodies, respectively) suggest that anti-spectrin antibodies strengthened the intervention of the naturally-occurring ones. On the basis of these results, we assume that during their aging in circulation, RBC can accumulate surface alterations to make spectrin accessible to antibodies so that, in addition to anti-band 3 antibodies, anti-spectrin antibodies may contribute to their elimination
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