Abnormal Blood Cells Found in Raynaud’s Patients

by | Aug 15, 2017 | Raynaud's Disease Relief

A recent study published in the journal Clinical Hemorheology and Microcirculation found that abnormal red blood cells detected in patients suffering from Raynaud’s phenomenon may contribute to the disease. The study found that the abnormalities, especially increased cell aggregation and impaired deformability, contributes to poor blood circulation in small vessels, also known as microcirculation.

Though certain items, like gloves for Raynaud’s sufferers, help mitigate symptoms, the phenomenon currently has no known treatment due to the continued uncertainty regarding what causes it. Raynaud’s presents several factors linked to local diminished blood supply in affected body parts, including neural factors and vascular and intravascular abnormalities. Hemorheological factors – the properties of the blood including its flow – of Raynaud’s, however, have remained controversial in previous studies.

The research team for the most recent retrospective study analyzed blood samples from 74 Raynaud’s patients and 58 healthy patients (as the control). Certain blood parameters were assessed, such as the volume percentage of red blood cells in blood (a test known as hematocrit), plasma and whole blood viscosity, red blood cell aggregation, and deformability. They also examined cold agglutinins – antibodies produced in response to infections that cause red blood cells to lump together in low temperatures – and cryoglobulins – proteins that become insoluble at low temperatures.

The findings of the study showed that Raynaud’s patients do carry abnormal qualities in several of the hemorheological parameters examined compared to the control group. Researchers specifically noted that these patients have increased red blood cell (erythrocyte) aggregation and that the cells are overall abnormal since they presented decreased deformability, which is the ability of red blood cells to change their shape under certain conditions without breaking.

Analysis also showed, however, that while 70 percent of the patients’ blood was positive for cold agglutinins and 43 percent was positive for cryoglobulins, neither one seemed to influence the hemorheological parameters. Additionally, there were no reported differences between the hematocrit, plasma and whole blood viscosity in the two groups.

Since disabled deformability and erythrocyte aggregation can impair blood flow rates, patients with Raynaud’s syndrome are more susceptible to the impairment of tissue oxygenation, which can lead to the worsening of symptoms and even the development of small ulcers and gangrene.

“Erythrocyte aggregation and deformability seems to be unfavorable in patients suffering from Raynaud’s phenomenon, which can play a role in the disturbance of microcirculation, thus the phenomenon is not only a vasospastic, but also a complex circulatory disorder,” the team concluded.

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