Open Access

Interaction between plant polyphenols and the erythrocyte membrane

Cellular & Molecular Biology LettersAn International Journal201117:38

DOI: 10.2478/s11658-011-0038-4

Received: 30 June 2011

Accepted: 6 December 2011

Published: 12 December 2011


The purpose of these studies was to determine the effect of polyphenols contained in extracts from apple, strawberry and blackcurrant on the properties of the erythrocyte membrane, treated as a model of the biological membrane. To this end, the effect of the substances used on hemolysis, osmotic resistance and shape of erythrocytes, and on packing order in the hydrophilic region of the erythrocyte membrane was studied. The investigation was performed with spectrophotometric and fluorimetric methods, and using the optical microscope. The hemolytic studies have shown that the extracts do not induce hemolysis at the concentrations used. The results obtained from the spectrophotometric measurements of osmotic resistance of erythrocytes showed that the polyphenols contained in the extracts cause an increase in the resistance, rendering them less prone to hemolysis in hypotonic solutions of sodium chloride. The fluorimetric studies indicate that the used substances cause a decrease of packing order in the hydrophilic area of membrane lipids. The observations of erythrocyte shapes in a biological optical microscope have shown that, as a result of the substances’ action, the erythrocytes become mostly echinocytes, which means that the polyphenols of the extracts localize in the outer lipid monolayer of the erythrocyte membrane. The results obtained indicate that, in the concentration range used, the plant extracts are incorporated into the hydrophilic area of the membrane, modifying its properties.

Key words

Erythrocyte membrane Plant polyphenols Hemolysis Osmotic resistance Echinocytes Generalized polarization Lipid packing order