Background - The Red blood cell (RBC) storage lesion results in decreased circulation and function of transfused RBCs. Elevated oxidant stress and impaired energy metabolism are a hallmark of the storage lesion in both human and murine RBCs. Although human studies don’t suffer concerns that findings may not translate, they do suffer from genetic and environmental variability amongst subjects. Murine models can control for genetics, environment, and much interventional experimentation can be carried out in mice that is neither technically feasible nor ethical in humans. However, murine models are only useful to the extent that they have similar biology to humans. Hypoxic storage has been shown to mitigate the storage lesion in human RBCs, but has not been investigated in mice.
Materials and methods - RBCs from a C57BL6/J mouse strain were stored under normoxic (untreated) or hypoxic conditions (SO2 ~ 26%) for 1h, 7 and 12 days. Samples were tested for metabolomics at steady state, tracing experiments with 1,2,3-13C3-glucose, proteomics and end of storage post transfusion recovery.
Results - Hypoxic storage improved post-transfusion recovery and energy metabolism, including increased steady state and 13C3-labeled metabolites from glycolysis, high energy purines (adenosine triphosphate) and 2,3-diphospholgycerate. Hypoxic storage promoted glutaminolysis, increased glutathione pools, and was accompanied by elevation in the levels of free fatty acids and acyl-carnitines.
Discussion - This study isolates hypoxia, as a single independent variable, and shows similar effects as seen in human studies. These findings also demonstrate the translatability of murine models for hypoxic RBC storage and provide a pre-clinical platform for ongoing study.