Human reticulocytes are capable of synthesizing membrane lipids from 14C-glycerol de novo. In both sickle and nonsickle reticulocytes the majority of 14C-glycerol was incorporated into phospholipids, primarily phosphatidylserine and phosphatidylcholine. Incorporation into sphingomyelin was minimal. The most abundant neutral lipid synthesized was triglyceride. In the absence of sickling, the rate of lipid synthesis in sickle reticulocytes was similar to that of nonsickle reticulocytes. With the induction of sickling under anoxic conditions sickle reticulocytes showed a prompt increase in the rate of lipid synthesis to an average of 69% above control values, while nonsickle reticulocytes under similar conditions decreased the rate of lipid synthesis. An increase in the rate of membrane lipid synthesis is associated in the mammalian erythroid cell with cell membrane damage. The findings further confirm that lesions of the erythroid cell membrane in sickle cell anemia are secondary to the sickling process itself.

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