Raman spectroscopy as a novel tool for monitoring biochemical changes and inter-donor variability in stored red blood cell units
Individual units of donated red blood cells (RBCs) do not ordinarily undergo analytical testing prior to transfusion. This study establishes the utility of Raman spectroscopy for analyzing the biochemistry of stored RBC supernatant and reveals interesting storage-related changes about the accumulation of lactate, a chemical species that may be harmful to certain patients. The data show measurable variations in supernatant composition and demonstrate that some units of donated RBCs accumulate lactate much more readily than others. The spectra also indicate a higher relative concentration of lactate in units collected from male donors than female donors (p = 0.004) and imply that there is a greater degree of variability at later stages of storage in units from older male donors (>45 years). The study proves that Raman analysis has promise for elucidating the relationship between the metabolism of stored RBCs and donor characteristics. It also suggests that there may be benefit in developing a Raman instrument for the rapid non-invasive assessment of blood-bag biochemistry by measuring through plastic over-layers.