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Given today’s current scientific method of preservation, red blood cells (RBCs) donated or drawn from live humans have a storage life of approximately 42 days, after which the blood will be discarded due to of degradation of the RBCs. The mechanism that drives said degradation is known as oxidative stress, in which the cells’ inability to balance out the creation and excretion of free radicals causes a conformational change in the shape and efficacy of RBCs. In order to counteract the oxidative actions upon the cells, it has been thought that the addition of reducing agents, specifically ascorbic acid, the reduced form of Vitamin C, to the matrix in which the cells are stored can push back the adverse effects of oxidation, allowing the cells to be stored for at least 56 days.

The method by which we quantify the efficacy of the said ascorbic acid treatment involves the measurement of blood redox potential using Nanoporous Gold Electrodes (NPGs). By using nanoporous electrodes in contrast to the more conventional planar electrodes, we can minimize the effects of biofouling on the electrochemical response, giving us more reproducible and consistent results. Through Open Circuit Potential (OCP) measurements, we have measured the redox potential of packed RBCs in both large volumes (milliliters) and in single drops (sub-microliters) over a 56-day period. The general statistical trend of the results of the OCPs over the past few months seems to suggest that the ascorbic acid treatment does indeed help stabilize the redox potential of RBCs.

Publication Date


Subject Major(s)



Red Blood Cells, GVHD, RBC, Oxidative Stress



Current Academic Year


Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Maryanne Collinson

Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Ramesh Natarajan

Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Kimberly Sanford

Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Mary Boyes


© The Author(s)

The Extension of RBC Longevity and Functionality in the Prevention of Graft Versus Host Disease

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