Open Access

Influence of dendrimers on red blood cells

  • Barbara Ziemba1Email author,
  • Gabriela Matuszko1,
  • Maria Bryszewska1 and
  • Barbara Klajnert1
Cellular & Molecular Biology LettersAn International Journal201117:33

DOI: 10.2478/s11658-011-0033-9

Received: 29 June 2011

Accepted: 9 November 2011

Published: 16 November 2011


Dendrimers, highly branched macromolecules with a specific size and shape, provide many exciting opportunities for biomedical applications. However, most dendrimers demonstrate toxic and haemolytic activity because of their positively charged surface. Masking the peripheral cationic groups by coating them with biocompatible molecules is a method to reduce it. It was proven that modified dendrimers can even diminish haemolytic activity of encapsulated drugs. Experiments confirmed that anionic dendrimers are less haemotoxic than cationic ones. Due to the high affinity of dendrimers for serum proteins, presence of these components in an incubation buffer might also influence red blood cell (RBC)-dendrimer interactions and decrease the haemolysis level. Generally, haemotoxicity of dendrimers is concentration-, generation-, and time-dependent. Various changes in the RBCs’ shape in response to interactions with dendrimers have been observed, from echinocytic transformations through cell aggregation to cluster formation, depending on the dendrimer’s type and concentration. Understanding the physical and chemical origins of dendrimers’ influences on RBCs might advance scientists’ ability to construct dendrimers more suitable for medical applications.

Key words

Dendrimer Erythrocytes Haemolysis Red blood cell Red blood cell morphology Toxicity