Indian Researchers Found Decrease in the Size of RBC Due to Alcohol Consumption
The decrease in the size of RBC may directly affects its oxygen-carrying capability which in turn effects both cognitive and physical body functions.
Effect of alcohol on red blood cells (RBC) is measured as monotonic decrease in cell volume. Point-of-care (POC) device (middle right) is used to measure these subtle changes in cell volume.
Scientists from Raman Research Institute (RRI) has developed a custom-made device to measure accurate size of red blood cells (RBC) using resistive pulse sensing. And they found that alcohol consumption leads to shrinkage in RBCs.
Excessive alcohol consumption results in the development of chronic diseases and other serious problems including high blood pressure, liver and heart diseases. The functioning of RBC under alcohol exposure in lethal limit was very difficult to measure and a challenging for researchers.
“Our lab had been working on building nanofluidic single-molecule detectors for the last few years. We found that some of the ideas used in the nanofluidic field may also be used in microfluidic in general and in cell biology particular. We were pleasantly surprised with the reproducibility and resolution of the devices,” said Professor Gautam Vivek Soni from RRI, Bengaluru.
The research team developed tiny micron (1/1000th of a millimeter) sized holes or micropores at the tip of borosilicate glass capillary tubes using micropipette puller and flame polisher. The diameter of micropore is measured by optical microscope. Optical microscope is used to measure the size of a particle of the order of micrometers using visible light.
“This device has potential to rapidly provide changes in cell volumes in cases like chemical exposure, malaria infection and large-population sickle-cell disease screening,” stated research work which was recently published in ACS Sensors journal of American Chemical Society.
The developed device relies on resistive pulse sensing principle to overcome this challenge. Resistive pulse sensing involves the measure of current produced when electrically conductive liquid containing tiny particles travels through small channels such as micropores.
The RBCs are introduced in particular electrically conductive liquid, then some amount of alcohol is added to the liquid and the liquid is passed through pores.
The current then produced is measured, and is used to found the excluded volume by the particles when passing through pores using some formula. The excluded volume tells whether there is shrinkage or expansion.
“These results may be used to explain the lack of oxygen-carrying capability of RBC under alcohol exposure leading to blurred vision, muscular in coordination, and altered mental state from alcohol abuse,” said an official in press release.
RBCs transport particular amount of oxygen from lungs to cells present in different parts of the body. Cells require oxygen to survive. If the size of RBC decreases, it affects the ability of RBC to transport oxygen i.e., it will carry less amount of oxygen.
“This is the first report on the quantitative measurements of changes in RBC volume on alcohol exposure. A possible reason for shrinkage in RBCs that alcohol increases the movement of the contents from the RBC into blood when it is exposed to alcohol,” further stated the published research paper.
There is a possibility that the symptoms related to alcohol abuse may be due to reduced oxygen-carrying capacity of RBCs with reduced volume. The shrinkage in RBCs in the presence of alcohol found by Indian researchers further supports studies that reported a significant decrease in hemoglobin content in the presence of alcohol.
This research work was recently published in ACS Sensors Journal of Chemical Society, was carried out by researchers Saurabh Kaushik, Manohara M., K. D. Murugan under the guidance of Dr. Soni from RRI and Dr. V. Sundaramurthy from National Centre of Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bangalore.
To understand the effect of time that the cells take to translocate through micropore on the function of cells, further research is ongoing in the lab of this research team.