We have earlier shown through electron spin resonance (ESR) studies of leukocytes that membranes of cells from both Chediak-Higashi syndrome (CHS) mice and humans have abnormally high fluidity. We have extended our studied to erythrocytes. Erythrocytes were labeled with the nitroxide-substituted analogue of stearic acid, 2-(3-carboxypropyl)-4,4-dimethyl-2-tridecyl-3-oxazolidinyloxyl, and ESR spectra were obtained. Order parameter, S, at 23 degrees C, was 0.661 and 0.653 for erythrocytes of normal and CHS mice (P less than 0.001). S was 0.684 for normal human erythrocytes and 0.675 (P less than 0.001) for CHS erythrocytes at 25 degrees C. Because S varies inversely to fluidity, these results indicate that CHS erythrocytes tend to have higher fluidity than normal. In vitro treatment of both mice and human CHS erythrocytes with 10 mM ascorbate returned their membrane fluidity to normal. We prepared erythrocyte ghosts and extracted them with CHCl3:CH3OH (2:1). Gas-liquid chromatography analysis showed a greater number of unsaturated fatty acids for CHS. The average number of double bonds detected in fatty acids for mice on a standard diet was 1.77 for normal and 2.02 for CHS (P less than 0.04); comparison of human erythrocytes from one normal control and one CHS patient showed a similar trend. Our results suggest that an increased proportion of unsaturated fatty acids may contribute to increased fluidity of CHS erythrocytes. Our observation that both leukocytes and erythrocytes of CHS have abnormal fluidity indicates that CHS pathophysiology may relate to a general membrane disorder.

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