Cell biochemistry and function

Effect of hypoxia and uremia on oxidative stress on erythrocytes from hemodialysis patients

Sara Soares Tozoni, Gabriela Bohnen, Nadja Grobe, Lia S. Nakao, Roberto Pecoits-Filho, Peter Kotanko, Andréa Novais Moreno-Amaral, Beatriz A K van Spitzenbergen


Oxidative stress (OS) is essential in uremia-associated comorbidities, including renal anemia. Complications experienced by hemodialysis (HD) patients, such as hypoxemia and uremic toxins accumulation, induce OS and premature death of red blood cells (RBC). We aimed to characterize reactive oxygen species (ROS) production and antioxidant pathways in HD-RBC and RBC from healthy controls (CON-RBC) and evaluate the role of uremia and hypoxia in these pathways. ROS production, xanthine oxidase (XO) and superoxide dismutase (SOD) activities, glutathione (GSH), and heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) levels were measured using flow cytometry or spectrophotometry in CON-RBC and HD-RBC (pre- and post-HD), at baseline and after 24 h incubation with uremic serum (S-HD) and/or under hypoxic conditions (5% O2). Ketoprofen was used to inhibit RBC uremic toxins uptake. HD-RBC showed higher ROS levels and lower XO activity than CON-RBC, particularly post-HD. GSH levels were lower, while SOD activity and HO-1 levels of HD-RBC were higher than control. Hypoxia per se triggered ROS production in CON-RBC and HD-RBC. S-HD, on top of hypoxia, increased ROS levels. Inhibition of uremic toxins uptake attenuated ROS of CON and HD-RBC under hypoxia and uremia. CON-RBC in uremia and hypoxia showed lower GSH levels than cells in normoxia and non-uremic conditions. Redox mechanisms of HD-RBC are altered and prone to oxidation. Uremic toxins and hypoxia play a role in unbalancing these systems. Hypoxia and uremia participate in the pathogenesis of OS in HD-RBC and might induce RBC death and thus compound anemia.

About the Contributors

Nadja Grobe, MS, PhD

Manager of Laboratory Research

Nadja received her MS and PhD in biochemistry from the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Germany. Prior to joining RRI in 2017, she gained more than 10 years of experience in guiding and implementing chemistry, biochemistry, and biomedical-focused research teams in nonprofit, academia, and government. Her previous research has been funded by the American Heart Association, the National Institutes of Health, and the American Society of Nephrology.

Dr. Peter Kotanko, MD

RRI Research Director

SVP, Corporate Research & Development

Peter Kotanko, MD, is Research Director at the Renal Research Institute (RRI), New York. Prior to joining RRI, from 1997 to 2007 he served as vice chair of a department of internal medicine at an academic teaching hospital in Graz, Austria. Prior to moving to Graz in 1989, he worked from 1982 to 1989 in the Department of Physiology and the University Clinic of Internal Medicine in Innsbruck, Austria. From 1995 to 1996 he trained in nephrology at the Hammersmith Hospital, London, United Kingdom.