Damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs) or alarmins are endogenous danger signals that are derived from damaged cells and extracellular matrix degradation, capable of triggering innate immune response to promote tissue damage repair. Hemolytic or hemorrhagic episodes are often associated with inflammation, even when infectious agents are absent, suggesting that damaged red blood cells (RBCs) release DAMPs.Hemoglobin (Hb) composes 96% of the dry weight of RBCs; therefore upon hemolysis, tremendous amounts of Hb are released into the extracellular milieu. Hb oxidation occurs outside the protective environment of RBCs, leading to the formation of different Hb oxidation products and heme. Heme acts as a prototypic DAMP participating in toll-like receptor as well as intracellular nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain-like receptor signaling. Oxidized Hb forms also possess some inflammatory actions independently of their heme releasing capability. Non-Hb-derived DAMPs such as ATP, interleukin-33, heat shock protein 70, as well as RBC membrane-derived microparticles might also contribute to the innate immune response triggered by hemolysis/hemorrhage.In this chapter we will discuss the inflammatory properties of RBC-derived DAMPs with a particular focus on Hb derivatives, as well as therapeutic potential of the endogenous Hb and heme-binding proteins haptoglobin and hemopexin in the prevention of hemolysis/hemorrhage-associated inflammation.
- Red blood cells
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