Primaquine-induced hemolytic anemia: Role of splenic macrophages in the fate of 5-hydroxyprimaquine-treated rat erythrocytes

Zachary S. Bowman, David J. Jollow, David C. McMillan

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Primaquine-induced hemolytic anemia is known to result from premature sequestration of damaged (but intact) erythrocytes by the spleen. We have shown previously that a phenolic metabolite, 5-hydroxyprimaquine (5-HPQ), is a direct-acting hemolytic agent in rats, suggesting that 5-HPQ is a mediator of the hemolytic response to primaquine. To investigate the fate of erythrocytes in vivo after in vitro exposure to 5-HPQ, rat 51Cr-labeled erythrocytes were incubated with hemolytic concentrations of 5-HPQ and then readministered intravenously to rats. The time course of loss of radioactivity from blood and uptake into the spleen and liver was measured. In rats given 5-HPQ-treated erythrocytes, an increased rate of removal of radioactivity from the circulation was observed as compared with the vehicle control. The loss of blood radioactivity was accompanied by a corresponding increase in radioactivity appearing in the spleen but not in the liver. When rats were pretreated with clodronate-loaded liposomes to deplete splenic macrophages, there was a decreased rate of removal of radioactivity from the circulation and a markedly diminished uptake into the spleen. A role for phagocytic removal of 5-HPQ-treated red cells was confirmed in vitro using the J774A.1 macrophage cell line. Furthermore, depletion of red cell GSH with diethyl maleate significantly enhanced in vitro phagocytosis of 5-HPQ-treated red cells. The data indicate that splenic macrophages are responsible for removing 5-HPQ-treated red cells and support the postulate that this metabolite is a contributor to the hemolytic anemia induced after administration of the parent compound.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)980-986
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2005


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology

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