Red blood cell (RBC) aggregation is increased in familial hypercholesterolemia, and is reduced significantly after low density lipoprotein (LDL) apheresis. The purpose of the present study was to clarify whether this reduction depends on changes in plasma composition, RBC membrane properties, or both. RBC aggregation was determined in a computerized cell flow-properties analyzer, before and after LDL apheresis. We compared RBC aggregation in autologous plasma with aggregation in a plasma-free standard solution (0.5% of dextran 500 kDa) to define the separate contributions of plasma and cellular properties to the observed RBC aggregation. RBC aggregation in autologous plasma was reduced by 35.5% after LDL apheresis (P = 0.01) but was not significantly affected when measured in dextran 500. This suggests that LDL apheresis attenuated RBC aggregation by altering plasma composition rather than RBC membrane properties. These results are relevant to the understanding of hemorheological changes which follow therapeutic apheresis in hypercholesterolemic patients.
- Erythrocyte aggregation
- Low density lipoprotein apheresis