New Optical Technology Enables Red Blood Cell Finding

Helping to understand the dynamics and structure of red blood cells (RBCs) through the development of novel optical imaging techniques is a key focus of Beckman Institute faculty member Gabriel Popescu’s Quantitative Light Imaging (QLI) Laboratory.

Helping to understand the dynamics and structure of red blood cells (RBCs) through the development of novel optical imaging techniques is a key focus of Beckman Institute faculty member Gabriel Popescu’s Quantitative Light Imaging (QLI) Laboratory.

This type of technology, which is sensitive to nanoscale motions in live cells, has now enabled studies giving new insight into how the remarkable deformability of red blood cells is maintained. The research was reported in a paper, titled Metabolic remodeling of the human red blood cell membrane, that appears as the cover story in the Jan. 25 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science and is available early online.  

Popescu said the research demonstrates that the deformability of red blood cells is maintained by energy consumption via ATP transport.   

“The ability of red blood cells to squeeze through narrow capillaries in the microvasculature is governed by the continuous remodeling of the spectrin network,” he said.

The work was enabled by the development of novel optical imaging technique that Gabriel Popescu developed as a postdoctoral researcher in Michael Feld’s Laboratory at MIT.

The cover image was rendered with the help of the Beckman Institute’s Visualization Laboratory. Another contributor to the paper, Catherine Best, is a faculty member in the College of Medicine at the University of Illinois. 

To read the paper, click here.