Human erythrocytes (RBCs), stored at 4°C under nominal absence of external energy sources and calcium ions, show a gradual decrease in membrane roughness (Rrms) at the end of which the appearance of morphological phenomena (spicules, vesicles and spherocytes) is observed on the cell membrane, phenomena that can mainly be ascribed to the ATP-dependent disconnection of the cortical cytoskeleton from the lipid bilayer. After depletion of the intracellular energy sources obtained under the extreme conditions chosen, treatment with a minimal rejuvenation solution makes the following remarks possible: (i) RBCs are able to regenerate adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and 2,3-bisphosphoglycerate only up to 4days of storage at 4°C, whereas from the eighth day energy stocks cannot be replenished because of a disorder in the transmembrane mechanisms of transport; (ii) the RBCs' roughness may be restored to the initial value (i.e. that observed in fresh RBCs) only in samples stored up to 4-5days, whereas after the eighth day of storage the rejuvenation procedure appears to be inefficient; (iii) membrane physical properties - as measured by Rrms - are actually controlled by the metabolic production of ATP, necessary to perform the RBCs' basic functions; (iv) once energy stores cannot be replenished, a regulated sequence of the morphological events (represented by local buckles that lead to formation of spicules and vesicles of the lipid bilayer with generation of spherocytes) is reminiscent of the RBCs' apoptotic final stages; (v) the morphological phenomenology of the final apoptotic stages is passive (i.e. determined by simple mechanical forces) and encoded in the mechanical properties of the membrane-skeleton; and (vi) necrotic aspects (e.g. disruption of cell membrane integrity, so that intracellular protein content is easily released) ensue when RBCs are almost totally (≥90%) depleted in an irreversible way of the energetic stores. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.
Pompeo, G., Girasole, M., Cricenti, A., Boumis, G., Bellelli, A., & Amiconi, S. (2010). Erythrocyte death in vitro induced by starvation in the absence of Ca2+. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Biomembranes, 1798(6), 1047–1055. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbamem.2010.02.002