Isolated rat lungs were perfused with suspensions containing normal and stiffened erythrocytes (RBCs) during normoxic and hypoxic ventilation to assess the effect of reduced RBC deformability on the hypoxic pressor response. RBC suspensions were prepared with cells previously incubated in isotonic phosphate-buffered saline with or without 0.0125% glutaraldehyde. The washed RBCs were resuspended in isotonic bicarbonate-buffered saline (with 4% albumin) to hematocrits of approximately 35%. The lungs were perfused with control and experimental cell suspensions in succession while pulmonary arterial pressure was measured during normoxic (21% O2) and hypoxic (3% O2) ventilation. On the attainment of a peak hypoxic pressor response, flow rate was changed so that pressure-flow curves could be constructed for each suspension. RBC deformability was quantified by a filtration technique using 4.7-microns-pore filters. Glutaraldehyde treatment produced a 10% decrease in RBC deformability (P less than 0.05). Over the range of flow rates, Ppa was increased by 15-17% (P less than 0.05) and 26-31% (P less than 0.05) during normoxic and hypoxic ventilation, respectively, when stiffened cells were suspended in the perfusate. The magnitude of the hypoxic pressor response was 50-54% greater with stiffened cells over the three flow rates. In a separate set of experiments, normoxic and hypoxic arterial blood samples from conscious unrestrained rats were used to investigate the effects of acute hypoxia on RBC deformability. Deformability was measured with the same filtration technique. There was no difference in the deformability of hypoxic compared with normoxic RBCs. We conclude that the presence of stiffened RBCs enhances the hemodynamic response to hypoxia but acute hypoxia does not affect RBC deformability.
- Copyright © 1990 the American Physiological Society