Platelet-independent adhesion of calcium-loaded erythrocytes to von Willebrand factor

Michel W J Smeets, Ruben Bierings, Henriet Meems, Frederik P J Mul, Dirk Geerts, Alexander P J Vlaar, Jan Voorberg, Peter L Hordijk

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Adhesion of erythrocytes to endothelial cells lining the vascular wall can cause vaso-occlusive events that impair blood flow which in turn may result in ischemia and tissue damage. Adhesion of erythrocytes to vascular endothelial cells has been described in multiple hemolytic disorders, especially in sickle cell disease, but the adhesion of normal erythrocytes to endothelial cells has hardly been described. It was shown that calcium-loaded erythrocytes can adhere to endothelial cells. Because sickle erythrocyte adhesion to ECs can be enhanced by ultra-large von Willebrand factor multimers, we investigated whether calcium loading of erythrocytes could promote binding to endothelial cells via ultra-large von Willebrand factor multimers. We used (immunofluorescent) live-cell imaging of washed erythrocytes perfused over primary endothelial cells at venular flow rate. Using this approach, we show that calcium-loaded erythrocytes strongly adhere to histamine-stimulated primary human endothelial cells. This adhesion is mediated by ultra-large von Willebrand factor multimers. Von Willebrand factor knockdown or ADAMTS13 cleavage abolished the binding of erythrocytes to activated endothelial cells under flow. Platelet depletion did not interfere with erythrocyte binding to von Willebrand factor. Our results reveal platelet-independent adhesion of calcium-loaded erythrocytes to endothelium-derived von Willebrand factor. Erythrocyte adhesion to von Willebrand factor may be particularly relevant for venous thrombosis, which is characterized by the formation of erythrocyte-rich thrombi.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0173077
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017

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