Role of the interaction between puerarin and the erythrocyte membrane in puerarin-induced hemolysis

Shao Zhen Hou, Zi Ren Su, Shu Xian Chen, Mu Rong Ye, Song Huang, Liang LIU, Hua Zhou*, Xiao Ping Lai

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Adverse drug reactions (ADR), especially intravenous hemolysis, have largely limited the application of puerarin injections in clinics. This study investigated the underlying mechanisms of puerarin-induced hemolysis. Our results show that puerarin induced concentration-dependent and time-dependent hemolysis when human erythrocytes were incubated in saline solution with more than 2 mM puerarin for over 2 h. However, incubation in PBS or addition of 1 mM of lidocaine to the saline solution completely abolished the hemolysis. Providing materials that could start ATP synthesis did not reverse the hemolysis, and puerarin did not affect Na+-K+-ATPase activity. In addition, puerarin (0.1-2 mM) did not cause calcium influx or exhibited pro-oxidant activity in erythrocytes. Puerarin exhibited different influences on the membrane microviscosity of erythrocytes in saline and PBS. Moreover, 1 mM lidocaine inhibited 8 mM puerarin-induced reduction of membrane microviscosity in saline solution. SDS-PAGE analysis of membrane proteins revealed that 2 mM puerarin treatment induced the appearance of several new protein bands but attenuated the expression of protein bands 2.1, 3, 4.1, 4.2 and 5. These results suggest that high concentrations of puerarin-induced hemolysis were associated with the changes of membrane lipids and of the composition of erythrocytes membrane proteins but not with ATP depletion, pro-oxidation and calcium influx. These changes could be related to the intercalation of amphiphilic puerarin at high concentration into the erythrocyte membrane in certain media, resulting in membrane disorganization and, eventually, cytolysis. Hence, in clinics, determining the optimal dose of puerarin is critical to avoid overdosing and ADR.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)184-192
Number of pages9
JournalChemico-Biological Interactions
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2011

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Toxicology

User-Defined Keywords

  • Erythrocyte
  • Hemolysis
  • Membrane structure
  • Puerarin injection


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