Journal of Applied Physiology

Hyperbaric hyperoxia reversibly inhibits erythrocyte phospholipid fatty acid turnover

C. A. Dise, J. M. Clark, C. J. Lambersten, D. B. Goodman


The present study is one component of a comprehensive investigation of oxygen tolerance of tissues and organs in normal human subjects. The focus of this study was the acylation of membrane phospholipid in situ by erythrocytes. Activation of exogenous [9,10–3H]oleic acid to acyl thioester and transesterification of the acyl thioester into phospholipid by intact human erythrocytes incubated in vitro decreased 30% after exposure of 10 human subjects to hyperbaric hyperoxia (100% O2, 3 ATA, 3.5 h). Partial recovery of activity could be detected when additional cells were obtained from these subjects and assayed in vitro 24 h after cessation of exposure. No significant change in membrane phospholipid fatty acid composition was detected under these conditions. The reduced glutathione content of intact erythrocytes increased by 15% after hyperbaric hyperoxia and remained elevated 24 h after exposure. In isolated membranes prepared from the same cells activation of [9,10–3H]oleic acid to acyl thioester and its transesterification into phospholipid did not change after hyperoxia. Since the ability of intact cells to replace oxidized fatty acids in membrane phospholipids via deacylation and reacylation in situ may be necessary for the maintenance of membrane integrity during exposure to oxidative stress, the decrease in [9,10–3H]oleic acid incorporation by human erythrocytes detected in vitro after hyperbaric hyperoxia in vivo may reflect an early event in the pathogenesis of oxygen-induced cellular injury and may be a useful index for assessment of the tolerance of tissues to hyperoxia.