Poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG5000)-conjugated phosphatidylethanolamine was introduced onto the surface of hemoglobin vesicles (HbV); phospholipid vesicles encapsulating concentrated Hb (d = 0.257 ± 0.087 μm; P50 = 32 Torr). The obtained PEG-modified HbV (HbV-PEG) was studied for use as a red cell substitute from the viewpoint of theology, surface properties, and hemodynamics. The viscosity of the unmodified HbV suspended in saline ([Hb] = 10 g/dL) was 2.6 cP (shear rate = 358 s-1, 37 °C), less than that of human blood (4 cP). However, when suspended in a 5 g/dL albumin solution (HbV/albumin), it increased to 8 cP due to the molecular interaction between albumin and vesicles, and the viscosity increased with decreasing shear rate, e.g., 37 cP at 0.58 s-1. As for the HbV-PEG/albumin, on the other hand, the viscosity was 3.5 cP at 358 s-1 and was comparable with that of human blood. Optical microscopy showed formless flocculated aggregates of the unmodified HbV, while no aggregates were confirmed for the HbV-PEG. The steric hindrance of PEG chains seemed to be effective in preventing intervesicular access and the resulting aggregation. To estimate the flow profiles in the capillaries, the suspensions were allowed to penetrate through isopore membrane filters (pore size = 0.4-8μm, cf. capillary diameter = 4-10 μm). The penetration rate of the HbV-PEG/albumin was higher than that of the unmodified HbV/albumin due to the suppression of aggregation, whereas both of them were significantly higher than that of human blood due to the smaller size of vesicles than RBC. Ninety percent exchange transfusion was performed with the HbV-PEG/albumin or HbV/albumin in anesthetized Wistar rats (n = 6). The blood flow in the abdominal aorta increased 1.5 times, and the total peripheral resistance decreased in the HbV-PEG/albumin-administered group in comparison with the HbV/albumin group. As for the blood gas parameters, the base excess and pH remained at higher levels in the HbV-PEG/albumin group, and the O2 tension in mixed venous blood for the HbV-PEG/albumin group tended to be maintained at a higher level than that for the HbV/albumin group. Thus, the PEG modification of HbV reduced the viscosity by the suppression of aggregation and resulted in prompt blood circulation in vivo.
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