Oxidative Cell Membrane Damage

  Majid Ali, M.D.

Leaky Cell Membrane State


I draw the strongest support for my view that accelerated oxidative molecular injury is the root cause of all disease from direct microscopic evidence of oxidative damage to blood cell membranes and blood plasma proteins. In this section, I include some comments about two sets of personal observations about these phenomena:

The oxidative damage to blood cell membranes seen in states of accelerated oxidative injury; and

The oxidative damage to blood plasma proteins seen in states of high oxidative damage.

In one of my research studies, I examined the effects of intravenously administered vitamin C on the form and function of blood cells. For several reasons discussed in the earlier sections of this chapter I expected vitamin C to exert some beneficial antioxidant effects on such cells. This expectation notwithstanding, I made a startling observation during the first series of experiments. One of the first blood samples l examined in this study was taken from a patient in the middle of a severe food sensitivity reaction. When seen with a high-resolution phase-contrast microscope, nearly all his red blood cells showed varying degrees of cell membrane deformity. That was the first time the term oxidative storms arose in my mind—red cell membranes were being literally bent out of shape by such storms. Blood samples, taken soon after finishing an IV drip of 15 grams of vitamin C, showed restoration of the cell membrane shape in more than half the cells. I then examined the blood samples of several other patients suffering from a variety of immune disorders before and after vitamin C drips. As a group, these patients showed cell membrane deformities in up to 80% of red blood cells (Am J Clin Pathol 94:515; 1990). Vitamin C drips restored the normal shapes of such cells in more than 50% of instances.

I illustrate the functional and structural changes in red blood cells caused by oxidative stress, and the reversibility of such changes with intravenous vitamin C infusion. The red blood cells appearing in the upper photomicrograph show several patterns of irregularities and elongation. The membranes of some cells show sharp angulation, crinkling and spiking caused by accelerated oxidative stress. Some cells are clumped together due to adhesiveness caused by oxidative injury. The lower photomicrograph shows how deformed structure of red blood cells is restored by an intravenous vitamin C infusion. Note how all cells are well-sepearted from each other. (In health, cells are seperated from each other by a weak surface negative charge which is altered by oxidative stress.) Vitamin C, of course, is the principle water-phase antioxidant of human blood.




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