We encapsulated a purified and concentrated hemoglobin (Hb) solution with a phospholipid bilayer membrane to form Hb vesicles (particle diameter, ca. 250 nm) for the development of artificial oxygen carriers. Reaction of Hb inside the vesicle with hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is one of the important safety issues to be clarified and compared with a free Hb solution. During the reaction of the Hb solution with H2O2, metHb (FeIII) and ferrylHb (FeIV=O) are produced, and H2O2 is decomposed by the catalase-like reaction of Hb. The aggregation of discolored Hb products due to heme degradation is accompanied by the release of iron (ferric ion). On the other hand, the concentrated Hb within the Hb vesicle reacts with H2O2 that permeated through the bilayer membrane, and the same products as the Hb solution are formed inside the vesicle. However, there is no turbidity change, no particle diameter change of the Hb vesicles, and no peroxidation of lipids comprising the vesicles after the reaction with H2O2. Furthermore, no free iron is detected outside the vesicle, though ferric ion is released from the denatured Hb inside the vesicle, indicating the barrier effect of the bilayer membrane against the permeation of ferric ion. When vesicles composed of egg york lecithin (EYL) as unsaturated lipids are added to the mixture of Hb and H2O2, the lipid peroxidation is caused by ferrylHb and hydroxyl radical generated from reaction of the ferric iron with H2O2, whereas no lipid peroxidation is observed in the case of the Hb vesicle dispersion because the saturated lipid membrane of the Hb vesicle should prevent the interaction of the ferrylHb or ferric iron with the EYL.
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