Hemoglobin (Hb) has been widely studied as a raw material for various types of oxygen carriers. In the purification of Hb from red blood cells including virus inactivation and denaturation of other proteins and the long-term storage of Hb vesicles (HbV), a deoxygenation process is one of the important processes because of the high stability of deoxygenated Hb to heating and metHb formation. Though an oxygenated Hb solution can be deoxygenated with an artificial lung, it is difficult to reduce the oxygen partial pressure of the Hb solution to less than 10 Torr. We developed an electrochemical system for complete deoxygenation of the Hb solution at the cathode compartment using hydrogen containing nitrogen gas at the anode compartment. Oxygen in the Hb solution was reduced to OH- at the cathode compartment within several minutes at a potential value of-1.67 V and was finally converted to water by neutralization with H+ from the anode in the whole system. The resulting completely deoxygenated Hb could tolerate heat treatment at 62 °C for 10 h with no denaturation of deoxygenated Hb. The metHb formation rate of reoxygenated Hb at 37 °C was not changed after heat treatment. Furthermore, vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) could be inactivated at an inactivation degree of more than 5.96 log by heat treatment.
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