MAY 16, 2020 8:27 AM PDT

Red Blood Cells: More than just an Oxygen Delivery Service

WRITTEN BY: Jasper Cantrell

The human body is a complex network of systems that often interact and affect each other. Recent work shows that red blood cells (RBCs) may have more roles than to just bring oxygen from one part of the body to another. RBCs have recently been implicated in the regulation of parts of the immune system, in particular T-cell proliferation. While work on this is not extensive, a group from Australia hypothesized that RBCs altered by disease could change the effects RBCs had on other cells.

To do this, they decided to introduce RBCs to the cancer cell line A549. This cell line originates from non-small lung cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC), which releases several chemokines, cytokines, and growth factors that creates a microenvironment around the tumor that promotes tumor growth. Culturing two separate samples, one with RBCs alone (oRBC) and the other with RBCs cultured alongside the cancer cell line A549 (ccRBC), they generated an experimental RBC and a control. Isolating the RBC from these cultures, the ccRBC sample was found to be enriched in inflammatory cytokines, and other tumor-promoting molecules. These molecules were also found in the A549 media and thought to have been brought along during the purification process. This is hypothesized to be because of the Duffy antigen receptor for chemokines (DARC) on the RBC membranes, which is known to bind many of these molecules.

After identifying the difference between oRBCs and ccRBCs, the team wanted to examine how they interact with the immune system. Introducing both oRBC and ccRBC to Jurkat leukemia T-cells showed an interesting effect. Only ccRBCs were able to stimulate T-cell proliferation, although both oRBC and ccRBC could inhibit activation-dependent apoptosis in T-cells. ccRBC also induced a specific stimulation of CD8+ proliferation. Both of these observations had been seen in previous work. RBC is known to stimulate T-cell proliferation, and CD8+ T-cell growth can be seen in patients who had undergone several blood transfusions. There hadn’t been a differentiation between healthy RBCs and altered RBCs, however. The most significant find was that ccRBCs from this study could induce T-cells to enter an immunosuppressive state, though this may be due to the particular chemokines and cytokines from the A549 cell line used.

The team finishes their work suggesting “that if there is interaction between the RBCs and cancer cells there may be some downstream immunological effects in vivo.” They continue to announce future experiments designed at examining this interaction with in vivo. Red blood cells are quite abundant in your body, and learning how they may interact with other parts of the body is something we should all be interested in.

Sources: Scientific Reports, American Society of Hematology
 

About the Author
  • Hey everyone! My name is Jasper and, considering I am pretty new here to Labroots, I figured I would introduce myself. I received my bachelor’s from the University of California at Riverside back in 2016. I started off my career a few years ago with a job at a University over in New York, before moving over into the industry. I'm happy to be writing content for Labroots, and I hope you enjoy it!
You May Also Like
JUL 29, 2020
Cancer
Regulating Apoptosis in Prostate Cancer
JUL 29, 2020
Regulating Apoptosis in Prostate Cancer
Cancer treatments tend to work in one of a few ways. They can target the immune system, prevent cancer proliferation and ...
AUG 05, 2020
Cancer
A New Test to Analyze Cell-Free DNA in Cancer Diagnostics
AUG 05, 2020
A New Test to Analyze Cell-Free DNA in Cancer Diagnostics
Cell-free DNA (cfDNA) are small pieces of genomic DNA that have escaped into the bloodstream either through active relea ...
AUG 04, 2020
Cancer
Commonly used pesticides, approved by EPA, linked to mammary gland tumors
AUG 04, 2020
Commonly used pesticides, approved by EPA, linked to mammary gland tumors
In an analysis of how regulators review pesticides for their potential to cause cancer, researchers at Silent Spring Ins ...
AUG 06, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Device Diagnoses Breast Cancer in 60 Minutes
AUG 06, 2020
Device Diagnoses Breast Cancer in 60 Minutes
Researchers have created a point-of-care device that can provide diagnostic results for breast cancer in under an hour. ...
AUG 12, 2020
Cancer
Comparing Nivolumab and Pembrolizumab in the Treatment of Lung Cancer
AUG 12, 2020
Comparing Nivolumab and Pembrolizumab in the Treatment of Lung Cancer
Since the 1940s, chemotherapy has been a primary treatment option for cancer. The late 20th century brought a new type o ...
AUG 27, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Genetic Tool Predicts Breast Cancer Risk in Women of Asian Ancestry
AUG 27, 2020
Genetic Tool Predicts Breast Cancer Risk in Women of Asian Ancestry
  Many diseases such as breast cancer have both a strong genetic component, coupled with a variety of environmental ...
Loading Comments...