In this study, the binding of naturally occurring antibodies as well as of induced anti-spectrin antibodies to red blood cells (RBC), in relation with different ageing conditions, was investigated in the rat. RBC from aged animals, or from rats whose RBC were age-induced either by means of hypertransfusion (which blocks erythropoiesis) or by treatment with clodronate-containing liposomes (which reduces RBC removal from circulation), were used. Attainment of RBC ageing was demonstrated by MCV reduction and by an increase of both RBC density and 4.1a/4.1b RBC membrane protein ratio. The results demonstrate an augmented anti-spectrin antibody binding to RBC in relation with their ageing condition, especially when induced by hypertransfusion. The vesiculation process was also investigated and correlated with antibody binding: vesicles were found only in the plasma of clodronate-treated rats, whose RBC showed the lowest level of anti-spectrin antibody binding with respect to the other groups. In addition, RBC preserved in vitro in different media showed a binding of anti-spectrin antibody, which inversely correlated with the vesiculation process. On the whole, the latter results suggest a protective effect of vesicles towards IgG opsonization of aged RBC.
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