Characterization of apoptotic cell death in bovine red blood cells

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Red blood cells (RBCs) in mammalian species display phenotypic variations in cellular functions and metabolism ascribed to their compositional and morphological differences. After accruing stress-induced damages, organelle-free human RBCs display a specialized apoptotic cell death process characterized by breakdown of normal phospholipid cell membrane architecture. This process facilitates swift phagocytic recognition and catabolism of apoptotic RBCs, which could significantly curtail their lifespan in circulation. Due to multiple phospholipid anomalies in bovine RBCs, their cell death machinery is not completely understood. Herein, we observed that bovine RBCs display differential cell death patterns in response to various pathophysiologic cell stressors in vitro as compared to human RBCs, which were only partly explained by increased Ca2+ influx and oxidative stress. In conclusion, premature cell death of circulating bovine RBCs could potentially contribute to the pathogenesis of anemia in cattle of varying etiology. The present observations may have relevance to livestock health and productivity.