Suicidal death of erythrocytes (eryptosis) is characterized by cell shrinkage and exposure of phosphatidylserine (PS) residues at the cell surface. Excessive eryptosis may lead to anaemia. We aimed to study the role of eryptosis in heart failure (HF)-associated anaemia.
We measured eryptosis in rodent models of HF. Typical measures of eryptosis including PS-exposure, increased intracellular Ca-2 levels, and decreased cell volume were determined by flow cytometry. Transgenic REN2 rats displayed mild anaemia which was associated with a two-fold increase in erythrocyte PS-exposure when compared with Sprague Dawley (SD) control rats (P 0.01). Upon stimulation with eryptotic triggers such as oxidative stress, hyperosmotic shock and energy depletion, eryptosis was more prominent in REN2 as shown by increased PS-exposure, cytosolic Ca-2 influx, and cell shrinkage (P 0.05 vs. SD). Increasing cytosolic Ca-2 levels resulted in a stronger increase in PS-exposure in REN2 erythrocytes (P 0.01 vs. SD). Accordingly, inhibition of Ca-2 entry blunted the increased PS-exposure upon oxidative stress. The REN2 rats had significantly higher reticulocytes (REN2: 10.6 2.3; SD: 5.4 0.1; P 0.05) and erythrocyte turnover was increased, indicated by increased clearance of eryptotic erythrocytes. Eryptosis was also increased in a rat model of hypertensive cardiac remodelling (uninephrectomized rats implanted with deoxycorticosterone acetate pellets), in mice after transverse aortic constriction, as well as in a small proof-of-concept study in human HF patients.
Eryptosis is increased during HF development and could contribute to HF-associated anaemia. Eryptosis may therefore become a novel target for therapy in HF-associated anaemia.