The therapeutic benefit of transfusion presumes a direct correlation between blood oxygen carrying capacity and oxygen delivery. However, studies have shown that stored blood loses its ability to oxygenate tissues. The sequelae that can occur after transfusion (renal injury, myocardial infarction, death) are consistent with the idea that banked blood may exacerbate rather than correct anemia-induced hypoxia. We have discovered that banked blood has markedly diminished levels of nitric oxide/S-nitrosothiol (NO/SNO) bioactivity including reduced amounts of the S-nitrosylated form of hemoglobin (SNO-Hb), a major mediator of blood flow and peripheral oxygen delivery. This decline in SNO provides a mechanistic basis for the impaired vasodilatory activity of stored red blood cells (RBCs) and an explanation for why transfusion of even small amounts of blood may impair tissue perfusion. We have built on this novel finding by demonstrating that restoration of SNO-Hb levels (renitrosylation) corrects storage-induced deficiencies in RBC oxygen delivery and transfusion-induced organ dysfunction in multiple preclinical transfusion paradigms, and we have initiated clinical studies to assess the effects of transfusion on human tissue oxygenation. We have also developed first-in-class renitrosylating agents that are already undergoing clinical testing. We are positioned to provide critically needed data on the effects of transfusion on tissue oxygenation in humans and to advance the benefits of renitrosylation therapy on oxygen delivery through the following aims: 1. To advance understanding of the molecular mechanisms by which RBCs deploy SNO-based signals to regulate tissue oxygenation in fresh and stored blood. 2. To develop a device for ex vivo renitrosylation. 3. To determine if the physiologic responses to transfusion with renitrosylated RBCs are superior to untreated banked blood in a preclinical trauma model. 4. To conduct an autologous standard flow (i.e. non-trauma) transfusion study in humans with and without renitrosylation to delineate the physiologic effects of transfusion and the benefits of increased/restored SNO-Hb levels on tissue oxygenation. Collectively, our studies will provide much-needed insight into the effects of transfusion on tissue oxygenation, shed light on the mechanistic basis of adverse ischemic events associated with transfusion, and accelerate development of therapeutic approaches (repletion of SNO-Hb). Restoration of the oxygen delivery capabilities of banked blood should result in blood transfusion achieving its clinical purpose: vasodilation in the microcirculation to improve end-organ oxygen delivery in the anemic patient. To the extent that the world's supplies of banked RBCs are deficient in SNO-Hb, renitrosylation may hold significant therapeutic promise.
/ PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE Red blood cells are designed to deliver oxygen and are essential for life. Remarkably, stored blood has not been shown to improve tissue oxygenation and may actually worsen tissue perfusion. Close to 85 million units of red blood cells are administered worldwide each year so transfusion-related adverse events (including heart attack, organ injury, and death) are a major public health concern. An effective therapy to improve transfusion efficacy could have major impact on the well-being of millions of patients.
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