Erythrocytes containing abnormal haemoglobins with high affinity for red cell membrane are subjected to enhanced oxidant stress. Since HbS is known to have high affinity for red cell membrane and sickle cells are particularly susceptible to membrane lipid peroxidation, the behaviour of erythrocyte antioxidant system has been evaluated in 20 subjects, heterozygous for sickle cell anaemia. These subjects have shown normal levels of reduced glutathione, increased superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase activities and low catalase activity. These data suggest that such an unbalanced antioxidant system can not prevent damage by the enhanced production of oxygen free radicals by membrane-bound HbS molecules.

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