Associations of environment and lifestyle with donor blood parameters

PhD thesis defense Rosa de Groot

On 4 November 2020 (15:45) Rosa de Groot will defend her PhD thesis. From her research, Rosa concludes that for recruitment or selection of donors, there is no need to recommend blood services to take residential density or the studied lifestyle behaviours of donors into account.

Blood services have set up a multitude of donor selection and eligibility criteria to ensure the safety of donors and the quality of blood products. Little was known about effects of lifestyle behaviours such as physical activity, sedentary behaviour and dietary behaviour, and environmental characteristics on donor blood parameters. 
In a systematic literature review Rosa de Groot showed that blood lipid levels of urban residents were less favourable, such that they had higher total cholesterol, lower high density lipoprotein and higher triglycerides, as compared to those of rural residents. As the majority of the reported studies were conducted in low- and middle-income countries, she also investigated these associations in donors in the Netherlands, but no differences were found.

Higher LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels have in laboratory studies been associated with haemolysis levels (rupture of red blood cells) during storage. Therefore she studied lifestyle behaviours, blood lipids and haemolysis levels in donors. No evidence was found for associations of objectively measured moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, sedentary behaviour or selected food items with haemolysis levels.

While none of the lifestyle behaviours were associated with blood lipid levels, she did show that blood lipid levels were positively associated with haemolysis in a study of over 700 donors. Based on these findings, blood services are not recommended to take residential density or the studied lifestyle behaviours of donors into account for the recruitment or selection of donors.

Prof J Brug PhD and Prof WLAM de Kort MD PhD

K van den Hurk PhD and J Lakerveld PhD

Vrije Universiteit, on-line