The chapter describes the likely molecular mechanisms leading to the aggregation of human red blood cells (RBCs) under conditions of physiological coagulation when prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) or lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) is released from activated platelets and under pathophysiological conditions, in particular thrombi formation in sickle cell disease when patients are in a vaso-occlusive crisis. In both scenarios cation channels are activated. This leads to an increase of the free intracellular Ca2+ concentration resulting in an activation of the lipid scramblase, which in turn mediates a movement of phosphatidylserine (PS) from the inner to the outer membrane leaflet. In addition, the increased Ca2+ concentration leads to the activation of the Gardos channel. Experiments suggesting this mechanism have been performed with fluorescence microscopy, flow cytometry as well as single-cell force spectroscopy. The Ca2+-triggered RBC aggregation force has been identified to be close to 100 pN, a value large enough to play a significant role during thrombus formation or in pathological situations.
Part of the book: Erythrocyte