Although pyridoxal phosphate is known to inhibit gelation of purified hemoglobin S, antisickling activity has never been demonstrated for intact erythrocytes. We incubated washed erythrocytes at 37 degrees C either in buffer alone, or with added pyridoxal phosphate or pyridoxal, washed these cells, suspended them in untreated buffer, and compared the percent modified hemoglobin, the oxygen affinity, and the extent of sickling under hypoxia. Pyridoxal phosphate modified intracellular hemoglobin more slowly than pyridoxal. Pyridoxal phosphate lowered the oxygen affinity of normal cells, but had no effect on oxygen binding by sickle cells. Pyridoxal increased the oxygen affinity of normal and sickle erythrocytes equally. Pyridoxal phosphate significantly inhibited sickling of sickle or sickle trait erythrocytes (P less than 0.001). Inhibition of sickling by pyridoxal phosphate was largely independent of oxygen binding; whereas inhibition of sickling by pyridoxal was almost entirely dependent on increased oxygen binding. Although pyridoxal phosphate and pyridoxal both inhibit sickling by modification of hemoglobin S, they differ in the kinetics of whole cell modification, the effect on oxygen affinity of intact cells, and the mechanism of action of the antisickling activity.
J A Kark, P G Tarassoff, R Bongiovanni