Human erythroid cells are affected by aluminium. Alteration of membrane band 3 protein

Daniela Vittori*, Graciela Garbossa, Carlos Lafourcade, Gladys Pérez, Alcira Nesse

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


There is evidence that anaemia is associated with aluminium (Al). We have already reported on the sensitivity to Al, showed by erythroid cell populations of animals chronically exposed to the metal. In order to investigate whether Al could also affect human cells, experiments were carried out both on immature and mature human erythroid cells. Erythroid progenitors (CFU-E, colony-forming units-erythroid) concentrated from human peripheral blood were cultured in an Al-rich medium under erythropoietin stimulation and their development analysed. Human peripheral erythrocytes were aged in the presence of Al. Cells were examined using scanning electron microscopy, and membrane proteins analysed by polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis with sodium dodecyl sulphate and immunoblotting. The development of the Al-treated progenitors was 8750/6600-9200 CFU-E/106 cells, a significantly lower median value (P<0.05) than that showed by non-treated cells (12 300/11 200-20 700 CFU-E/106 cells). Erythrocyte morphological changes were induced by Al during the in vitro ageing. The cells lost their typical biconcave shape, turning into acanthocytes and stomatocytes. Simultaneously, an increased membrane protein breakdown compatible with band 3 degradation was detected. Besides, Al was found within the cells and attached to the membrane. The present in vitro results suggest that Al may disturb human erythropoiesis through combined effects on mature erythrocytes and cellular metabolism in late erythroid progenitors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)142-150
Number of pages9
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Biomembranes
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2002
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to Dr. Jorge Stripeikis for measuring Al levels, Mr. Juan Pablo Vittori for his helpful assistance on photography, and Dr. Héctor Ostrowski for kindly supplying the Epo Pronivel (Elea S.A.C.I.F. y A., Argentina). This research was supported by grants from the Universidad de Buenos Aires, Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Cientı&#x0301;ficas y Técnicas (CONICET, Argentina) and Agencia Nacional de Promoción Cientı&#x0301;fica y Tecnológica (ANPCYT, Argentina). Lic. D.Vittori has a fellowship from CONICET to fulfil her Ph.D. degree. Results of this work were partially presented at the XLV Annual Scientific Meeting, Sociedad Argentina de Investigación Clı&#x0301;nica, Mar del Plata, Argentina (November 2000) and at the Fourth Keele Meeting on Aluminium, Stoke-on-Trent, United Kingdom (February 2001).


  • Aluminium toxicity
  • Anaemia
  • Band 3
  • Erythrocyte morphology
  • Membrane proteins


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