Department Researchers Describe Previously Unknown Shape and Potential New Function for Red Blood Cells

January 08, 2014

Douglas B. Cines, MD, director of the Coagulation Laboratory and Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, is the first author of a new study in Blood, "Clot contraction: compression of erythrocytes into tightly packed polyhedra and redistribution of platelets and fibrin," published online ahead of print. The paper describes a new geometry that red blood cells assume when compressed during clot formation instead of their free-flowing bi-concave, disc shape. Contraction of blood clots is necessary for hemostasis, wound healing and to restore flow past obstructive thrombi, but little was known about the structure of contracted clots or the role of erythrocytes in contraction until now.

The Blood publication caught the attention of the Director of the NIH, Dr. Francis Collins, who discusses the researchers' NIH-funded findings in his "Director's Blog" post "Cellular Shape-Shifters to the Rescue."  

Read the Department of Communications news release.