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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Desferrioxamine decreases NAD redox potential of intact red blood cells: evidence for desferrioxamine as an inducer of oxidant stress in red blood cells

Yutaka Niihara1*, Junli Ge1, Oded Shalev2, Huiyuan Wu1, Amy Tu1 and Kouichi R Tanaka

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Medicine, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, UCLA School of Medicine, Torrance, California, USA

2 Department of Medicine, Hadassah-Mt. Scopus, Jerusalem, Israel

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BMC Clinical Pharmacology 2002, 2:8  doi:10.1186/1472-6904-2-8

Published: 24 October 2002



Desferrioxamine (DFO) is an important iron chelating agent. It has also been thought of as an agent with anti-oxidant potential as it chelates ferric iron in various parts of the body. However, there is evidence suggesting that it may paradoxically affect red blood cells (RBC) by inducing intracellular oxidant stress. To further understand the mechanism of DFO's interaction with RBC, we conducted a study to determine the effect of DFO upon RBC's redox status.


We examined NAD redox potential in intact RBC (N = 5) incubated with DFO. RBC were incubated with 6 mM DFO for 2 hours.


Significant decreases in NAD redox potential were observed after incubation of RBC with 6 mM DFO. The mean decrease was 10.01 ± 1.98% (p < 0.0004).


The data confirm the oxidant effect of DFO on RBC.

red blood cells; desferrioxamine; NAD redox potential; oxidant stress; iron