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Decrease of red blood cell sialic acid membrane content in septic patients

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Septic shock is a complex physiopathologic model with alterations in the microcirculation, occurring together with changes in biochemical and physiologic characteristics of the blood. Red blood cells (RBCs) of septic patients are characterized by a decreased deformability and an increased aggregatability. These events are also noted in RBCs of diabetic patients secondary to a reduction in sialic acid (SA) RBC membrane content.


To study the SA RBC membrane content in a septic population.


We studied blood samples in ICU patients without documented sepsis (n=20, age 69±12 years) and with documented sepsis (n=20, age 65±16 years).

SA was measured on isolated RBC membrane protein by a fluorimetric technique in high precision liquid chromatography (HPLC; Anumula).


We observed a significant decrease in SA in septic patients compared with nonseptic patients: SA 1.94±0.79 μg/100 μg protein and SA: 2.2±0.39 μg/100 μg protein (P=0.013), respectively for septic and nonseptic patients.


RBC of septic patients are characterized by a decrease in SA membrane content as described in diabetic patients. These data highlight another possible biochemical modification of RBC in sepsis.

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Zouaoui Boudjeltia, K., Piagnerelli, M., Piro, P. et al. Decrease of red blood cell sialic acid membrane content in septic patients. Crit Care 4 (Suppl 1), P17 (2000).

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