Detection of Alcohol in RBCs

News: Scientists have custom-made a platform to detect the effect of prolonged alcohol exposure on Red Blood Cells (RBC) through high-resolution measurements of their size.

Background:

  • Although it is known that alcohol affects RBCs, the exact physiological changes are very subtle and difficult to measure.
  • In order to overcome this challenge, scientists from Raman Research Institute (RRI), an autonomous institution funded by the Department of Science & Technology (DST), Government of India led by Professor Gautam Soni, have developed custom-made electro-fluidic platform that can detect the change by measuring the cell size in enhanced resolution.

Details:

  • The high-resolution platform that shows the reduction in size of RBCs on alcohol exposure can be tuned for a point-of-care screening of multiple conditions that alter the size and count of RBCs in blood.
  • The device made in RRI relies on the resistive pulse sensing principle. The team first developed techniques for making tiny micron (1/1000th of a millimetre) sized holes or micro-pores at the tip of a glass capillary with careful fabrication, flame polishing, and image verification.
  • Cells passing through the pore created very tiny electrical pulses, which give direct and most sensitive information of cell count and volume.

Applications:

  • These results may also be used to explain the lack of oxygen-carrying capability of RBC under alcohol exposure leading to blurred vision, muscular in coordination, and altered mental states from alcohol abuse.
  • Cell volume changes are an important biomarker for multiple diseases, especially blood-related conditions. Accurate measurement of volume changes of RBCs has applications in detection as well as mechanistic studies of diseases such as sickle cell anemia and malaria.
  • Similarly, small volume changes of RBCs could also be indicators of malnutrition states in a cell. With this work, the RRI team envisages that the high-resolution platform can be tuned for a point-of-care screening of several other blood-related conditions.