Changes in the composition of red blood cells membranes may lead to in an altered blood rheological pattern. Experimental studies suggest that hyperglycemia affects red cell rheology via direct effects on the membrane, including alterations of the lipid membrane bilayer composition and microviscosity and changes in membrane Na+/K+ ATP-ase function.

We aimed to investigatate the 1H NMR-based lipid profile of RBC membranes in type 2 diabetic patients and compare it to that of nondiabetic subjects.

Blood samples from 25 nondiabetic and 15 diabetic individuals were collected after an overnight fast. The groups were matched for age, sex and conventional lipid parameters. RBC were lysed and their lipid content was extracted according to a standard procedure. The lipid profile of membranes was recorded on Bruker DRX-500 NMR Spectrometer and analyzed by multivariate data techniques.

The NMR-based lipidomic analysis showed that diabetic patients presented a significantly different lipid profile in RBC membranes compared to that recorded in nondiabetic individuals. RBC membranes from patients with diabetes were characterized by altered fatty acid pattern e.g., higher saturated and lower unsaturated fatty acid levels and lower concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids, mainly docosahexaenoic acid. In addition, lower levels of phosphatidylcholine and phosphatidylethanolamine, and higher levels of sphingomyelin and cholesterol were observed in diabetic patients compared to nondiabetic individuals.

In conclusion, the lipid composition of RBC membranes in the diabetic state is significantly altered. These disturbances may be involved in the pathogenesis of the microvascular complications of diabetes through the disruption of tissue delivery of oxygen. Additionally, the increased cholesterol content of red cell membranes that reach the lipid core of the atherosclerotic plaques through the vasa vasorum may lead to core expansion, decrease their stability and make them prone to rupture.


C. Kostara: None. E. Bairaktari: None. M. Elisaf: None. V. Tsimihodimos: None.

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