Association of erythrocyte deformability with red blood cell distribution width in metabolic diseases and thalassemia trait.
Increased red blood distribution width (RDW) in anemia is related to disturbances in the cellular surface/volume ratio, usually accompanied by morphological alterations, while it has been shown in inflammatory diseases that the activity of pro-inflammatory cytokines disturbing erythropoiesis increases RDW. Recently it has been reported that higher RDW is related with decreased erythrocyte deformability, and that it could be related with the association of RDW and increased risk of cardiovascular diseases. In order to analyze the influence of morphological alterations and proinflammatory status on the relationship between RDW and erythrocyte deformability, we analyzed erythrocyte deformability along with RDW and other hematological and biochemical parameters in 36 α-thalassemia, 20 β-thalassemia, 20 δβ-thalassemia trait carriers, 61 metabolic syndrome patients and 76 morbidly obese patients. RDW correlated inversely with erythrocyte deformability in minor β-thalassemia (r = -0.530, p < 0.05), and directly in both metabolic syndrome and morbidly obese patients (ρ = 0.270, p < 0.05 and ρ = 0.258, p < 0.05, respectively). Minor β-thalassemia is often accompanied by more marked cell-shaped perturbations than other thalassemia traits. This could be the reason for this negative association only in this setting. Higher anisocytosis seems to be associated with greater morphologic alterations (shape/volume), which reduce erythrocyte deformability. The proinflammatory profile in metabolic patients can be related to the positive association of RDW with erythrocyte deformability found in these patients. However, further research is needed to explain the mechanisms underlying this association.