431344 Electrophysiological Rhythms in Red Blood Cells

Monday, November 9, 2015: 10:30 AM
Ballroom E (Salt Palace Convention Center)
Erin A. Henslee, Mechanical Engineering Sciences, University of Surrey, Guildford, United Kingdom and Fatima H. Labeed, Centre for Biomedical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering Sciences, University of Surrey, Guildford, United Kingdom

Coordination of many of the body's behavioural, metabolic, and physiological processes are controlled

around the 24 hour clock typically controlled through endogenous mechanisms, but can be re-

synchronised (entrainable) by external stimuli. For example, the process of the body overcoming jetlag

via rhythms  resetting.  Circadian rhythms are observed in most mammalian cells, in vivo and in vitro. From

rhythmic gene expression and cell division, to metabolic oscillations, biological clocks regulate myriad

aspects of cell biology and physiology. Hence, their disruption is strongly associated with disease.

Current models indicate the main drivers of the process are the products of rhythmic expressions of

clock genes' over a 24 hour cycle, though the specific transcriptional component can differ. O'Neill &

Reddy, 2011 [1] showed following temperature entrainment, circadian rhythms present in human red blood

cells (RBCs). Very little is known about RBC clock mechanisms, or whether functional consequences exist for

erythrocyte biology. To address this, we have established an electrophysiological approach to investigate

the causes and consequences of timekeeping in the RBCs.

We have employed dielectrophoresis through the 3DEP System to simultaneously measure cellular response

at 20 different frequencies to create a DEP “spectrum” of RBCs over a time course [2]. The spectra are then

fit to a single shell dielectric model to obtain electrophysiological properties of the cells.

Following the isolation and entrainment methodologies described in [1], we used DEP to obtain the

electrophysiological properties of RBCs from four male adult donors. Our preliminary results provided DEP

fingerprints of four donors (Figure 1 A-C), from which the extracted membrane conductance Geff

 andcytomplasmic conductivity σcyt fluctuated antiphasically with near-24-hour periods. The averages of

Geff and σcyt were fit to cosinor curves  peaking at 17.35 h and 5.45 h after the end of the temperature

cycle, respectively.No significant variation was observed in Ceff, confirming the microscopic observation that

cell radius and morphology did not change over the incubation.

The near-antiphasic appearance of Geff  and  σcyt suggests a rhythmic regulation of

transmembrane ion flux. These results demonstrated, for the first time, a circadian rhythm in the

electrophysiological properties of both red blood cell membrane and cytoplasm. We interpreted  the

observed changes in electrophysiological parameters as reflecting alterations in ion channel activity, which

in turn is likely to be mediated by post-translational modifications, in particular phosphorylation. As a first

step towards elucidating the mechanism underlying timekeeping in RBCs, we chose to investigate to what

extent it shares key features with the clock mechanism in nucleated cells, As an initial test, we predicted

that RBC rhythms would be sensitive to the generic kinase inhibitor, staurosporine. We observed an increase

in the circadian period of the electrophysiological oscillation.

One of the main issues with detecting circadian desynchrony in physiology is the absence of a non-invasive,

rapid method for detecting systemic temporal state. Recent studies show that forced circadian

desynchrony in humans leads to large-scale perturbation of circadian rhythmicity of blood mRNA's,

suggesting that blood is a good reflection of the wider internal desynchrony. Measurement of circadian

rhythms in animals routinely requires the sacrifice of multiple animals per time-point, meaning that tens of

animals are used in each experiment. DEP has the potential to provide an accurate and reproducible readout

of circadian status using very small blood volumes, and significantly reduce the numbers of animals required

for an experiment. Our preliminary data, using 10 µL tail-knick whole blood samples from voles,

demonstrates, for  the  first time, an electrophysiological correlate of the ultradian feeding-fasting cycle in

blood (Figure 1 D&E).

In the absence of nuclei or other organelles in RBCs, this work potentially indicates membrane

mechanisms involving differential ion channel activities and renders DEP a new technology to enhance the

understanding of chronobiology. Future work will investigate the underlying mechanisms behind these

changes and the effects of experimental conditions.

1.)O'NEILL, J. S. & REDDY, A. B. 2011. John S.  Circadian clocks in human red blood cells. Nature,  469,


2.) HOETTGES, K. F., HÜBNER, Y., BROCHE, L. M., OGIN, S. L., KASS, G. E. N. & HUGHES, M. P. 2008.

     Dielectrophoresis-activated multiwell plate for label-free high-throughput drug assessment.

     Analytical Chemistry, 80, 2063-2068.

3.) IRIMAJIRI, A., HANAI, T. & INOUYE, A. 1979. Dielectric theory of multi-stratified shell-model with

      its application to a lymphoma cell. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 78, 251-269.


      2012. Cytoplasm Resistivity of Mammalian Atrial Myocardium Determined by Dielectrophoresis and

      Impedance Methods. Biophysical Journal, 103(11),  2287–2294.

Figure  SEQ Figure \* ARABIC 1: Electrophysiological results for isolated human RBCs. Circadian variation in A.) Membrane conductance, B.) Membrane Capacitance, and C.) Cytoplasmic Conductivity. D.)  Ultradian variation in vole whole blood samples of cytoplasmic conductivity.

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See more of this Session: Electroporation and Electrophysiology
See more of this Group/Topical: 2015 Annual Meeting of the AES Electrophoresis Society