AbstractIt is well known that clinically relevant concentrations of iodine-containing radiographic contrast media (CM) induce morphological changes in human erythrocytes. However, there are only few reports about CM effects on erythrocytes of animals (e.g. mice, rats, rabbits, and pigs). Thus, two conventional iodine-containing CM (iodixanol, Visipaque™ 320; iomeprol, Iomeprol™ 350) were tested for their effects on the morphology of erythrocytes from these. After venous blood sampling and blood centrifugation, the autologous plasma was supplemented with 40 vol% CM. Then, a defined number of erythrocytes was incubated in this CM-supplemented plasma for 5 min at body temperature (37°C). Subsequently, 10 μL of the cell suspension were transferred to a purified glass slide and the number of discocytes, echinocytes, and acanthocytes was counted within a total number of 100 erythrocytes (40 fold primary magnification, transmitted light mode). Shape changes of the erythrocytes from all animal species strongly depended on the type of CM and compared to the effects which have already been described for human erythrocytes. Incubation in both CM resulted in morphological changes of the erythrocytes. Incubation in a iodixanol/plasma mixture induced the lowest echinocyte or acanthocyte formation. Porcine erythrocytes showed a much more distinct shape change than those of other animal species and humans. These results suggest erythrocytes from mice, rats, and rabbits are a suitable model system for human erythrocytes when CM effects on the cellular shape of erythrocytes have to be tested. The distinct deformation of the pig erythrocytes could be due to differences in the pig erythrocyte membrane or the physical and chemical constitution of pig erythrocytes.