Objective: We aimed to determine whether high-dose nitroglycerin, a nitric oxide donor, preserves erythrocyte deformability during cardiopulmonary bypass and examines the signaling pathway of nitric oxide in erythrocytes. Methods: In a randomized and controlled fashion, forty-two patients undergoing cardiac surgery with hypothermic cardiopulmonary bypass were allocated to high-dose (N = 21) and low-dose groups (N = 21). During rewarming period, patients were given intravenous nitroglycerin with an infusion rate 5 and 1 µg·kg−1·min−1 in high-dose and low-dose groups, respectively. Tyrosine phosphorylation level of non-muscle myosin IIA in erythrocyte membrane was used as an index of erythrocyte deformability and analyzed using immunoblotting. Results: Tyrosine phosphorylation of non-muscle myosin IIA was significantly enhanced after bypass in high-dose group (3.729 ± 1.700 folds, P =.011) but not low-dose group (1.545 ± 0.595 folds, P =.076). Phosphorylation of aquaporin 1, vasodilator-stimulated phosphoprotein, and focal adhesion kinase in erythrocyte membrane was also upregulated in high-dose group after bypass. Besides, plasma nitric oxide level was highly correlated with fold change of non-muscle myosin IIA phosphorylation (Pearson's correlation coefficient.871). Conclusions: High-dose nitroglycerin administered during cardiopulmonary bypass improves erythrocyte deformability through activating phosphorylation of aquaporin 1, vasodilator-stimulated phosphoprotein, and focal adhesion kinase in erythrocytes.
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