The effect of radiographic contrast media on the morphology of human erythrocytes


Echinocyte formation is associated with a rigidification of the cells that possibly affects capillary diffusion and, consequently, the tissue's oxygen supply. This study examines how many echinocytes appeared after the addition of various concentrations of radiographic contrast media (RCM) (Iodixanol 320, Iohexol 350, Iopromide 370, Iomeprol 350 and Iomeprol 400 mg Iodine/ml) compared to red blood cells in isotonic saline solution as well as in autologous plasma. Isotonic saline solution, Iodixanol, Iohexol, Iomeprol 350, Iomeprol 400 and Iopromide in concentrations of 10%, 20% or 40% were added to the plasma of six healthy subjects. Subsequently, the erythrocytes were resuspended in these RCM/plasma mixtures, incubated for 5 minutes at 37°C and then examined under the microscope. The various mixtures and concentrations of the RCM in the mixture all had a significant effect on the number of discocytes (p<0.0001). The percentage of discocytes for all concentrations significantly depended on the RCM/plasma mixture (p=0.0097). Of all the RCM/plasma mixtures used as well as of the NaCl/plasma mixtures, the Iodixanol/plasma mixture showed the most similar discocyte fraction compared to red blood cells in the autologous plasma. At the same time, while Iodixanol in this respect differed from all other RCMs, the other RCMs only differed little from one another with respect to the discocyte fraction.
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