Abstract

Nitrogen mustard and nor-nitrogen mustard inhibit sickling, but the concentrations required would be associated with unacceptable toxicity if these agents were administered to patients. Red cells could be treated extracorporeally and infused back into donors, if the alkylating agent could be removed or inactivated, if the treatment per se did not significantly shorten red cell survival, and if viable alkylated lymphocytes could be eliminated from the treated blood. To estimate whether these conditions could be met in a clinical trial, red cells from four dogs were alkylated at 6-wk intervals. No toxic reactions were observed, although not all nor-nitrogen mustard was removed by the washing procedure. Red cell survival was shortened to about half that of control cells, using concentrations of alkylating agent which reduce sickling by 50%. Lymphocytes from treated blood could still exclude trypan blue, but could not be shown to circulate after reinfusion into donor dogs. If alkylating agents are used to treat patients' cells, inhibition of sickling may outweigh the shortening of red cell life span induced by the treatment; blood should probably be irradiated before infusion to avoid administration of alkylated and potentially mutated, but viable, lymphocytes.

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