Red blood cells (RBCs) from the cord blood of newborn infants have distinctive functions in fetal and infant development. To systematically investigate the biophysical characteristics of individual cord RBCs in newborn infants, a comparative study was performed on RBCs from the cord blood of newborn infants and from adult mothers or nonpregnant women using optical holographic microtomography. Optical measurements of the distributions of the three-dimensional refractive indices and the dynamic membrane fluctuations of individual RBCs were used to investigate the morphological, biochemical, and mechanical properties of cord, maternal, and adult RBCs at the individual cell level. The volume and surface area of the cord RBCs were significantly larger than those of the RBCs from nonpregnant women, and the cord RBCs had more flattened shapes than that of the RBCs in adults. In addition, the hemoglobin (Hb) content in the cord RBCs from newborns was significantly higher. The Hb concentration in the cord RBCs was higher than that in the nonpregnant women or maternal RBCs, but they were within the physiological range of adults. Interestingly, the amplitudes of the dynamic membrane fluctuations in cord RBCs were comparable to those in nonpregnant women and maternal RBCs, suggesting that the deformability of cord RBCs is similar to that of healthy RBCs in adults.
Park, Ahn, Kim, Lee, Kook, Lee, Suh, Na, and Park: Three-dimensional refractive index tomograms and deformability of individual human red blood cells from cord blood of newborn infants and maternal blood