Effects of ethanol on red blood cell rheological behavior

M. Rabai, J. A. Detterich, R. B. Wenby, K. Toth, H. J. Meiselman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)


Consumption of red wine is associated with a decreased risk of several cardiovascular diseases (e.g., coronary artery disease, stroke), but unfortunately literature reports regarding ethanol's effects on hemorheological parameters are not concordant. In the present study, red blood cell (RBC) deformability was tested via laser ektacytometry (LORCA, 0.3-30 Pa) using two approaches: 1) addition of ethanol to whole blood at 0.25%-2% followed by incubation and testing in ethanol-free LORCA medium; 2) addition of ethanol to the LORCA medium at 0.25%-6% then testing untreated native RBC in these media. The effects of ethanol on deformability for oxidatively stressed RBC were investigated as were changes of RBC aggregation (Myrenne Aggregometer) for cells in autologous plasma or 3% 70 kDa dextran. Significant dose-related increases of RBC deformability were observed at 0.25% (p < 0.05) and higher concentrations only if ethanol was in the LORCA medium; no changes occurred for cells previously incubated with ethanol then tested in ethanol-free medium. The impaired deformability of cells pre-exposed to oxidative stress was improved only if ethanol was in the LORCA medium. RBC aggregation decreased with concentration at 0.25% and higher for cells in both autologous plasma and dextran 70. Our results indicate that ethanol reversibly improves erythrocyte deformability and irreversibly decreases erythrocyte aggregation; the relevance of these results to the health benefits of moderate wine consumption require further investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-99
Number of pages13
JournalClinical hemorheology and microcirculation
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Alcohol
  • erythrocyte aggregation
  • erythrocyte deformability
  • oxidative stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Hematology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)

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