Erythrocytes from 14 patients with homozygous sickle cell anaemia were treated with the calcium ionophore A23187 to induce loss of cellular potassium and water. The dehydrated cells showed a decrease in filterability (loss of deformability) through pores of 5 micron diameter. Oxpentifylline and cetiedil citrate, which preserve erythrocyte cation and water content, had a significant (p less than 0.01) protective effect against loss of deformability at a concentration of 1 mumol/l. Oxpentifylline showed no adverse effect on the rheology, morphology, or haemolysis of sickle cells at concentrations up to 500 mumol/l. Drugs that act on the erythrocyte membrane to maintain cell hydration are of potential rheological benefit in sickle cell anaemia.
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