The dielectric spectroscopy of human red blood cells: The differentiation of old from fresh cells

Marcelo David, Evgeniya Levy, Yuri Feldman, Paul Ben Ishai, Orly Zelig, Saul Yedgar, Gregory Barshtein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Objective: The objective of the study was to gauge the effect of storage lesions on the dielectric response of red blood cells (RBC), in particular those processes linked to deformations of the cellular membrane known as the β-dispersion. Approach: The dielectric response of RBC suspensions, exposed to blood-bank cold storage, was studied using time-domain dielectric spectroscopy (TDDS) in the frequency range of 500 kHz up to 1 GHz. The measured dielectric processes are characterized by their dielectric strength (Δϵ) and relaxation time (τ). Changes in the dielectric properties of the RBC suspensions due to storage-related lesions were evaluated. For a quantitative characterization of RBC lesions, we measured the deformability of fresh and stored RBC as expressed by their elongation ratio (ER), which was achieved under a shear stress of 3.0 Pa. Main Result: The results show that the storage of RBC induced a statistically significant decrease of dielectric relaxation times. In addition, a sound correlation between the mean values of ER and the relaxation times was observed (Spearman's correlation coefficient ρ = 0.847). We draw the conclusion that those alterations in the relaxation time are induced by changes in the shape of the RBC that happen during cold-storage. Significance: The evolution of the β-dispersion of RBC opens new possibilities in the blood bank inventory management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1335-1348
Number of pages14
JournalPhysiological Measurement
Issue number7
StatePublished - 22 Jun 2017


  • aging
  • dielectric spectroscopy
  • erythrocytes
  • red blood cells
  • storage


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