Michel (M. W. J.) Smeets

Molecular Cell Biology


Vascular research, cell biology

Research interests

The effects of cold stored red blood cells on vascular integrity

Project outline
Red blood cell transfusion is an essential therapy in conditions associated with tissue hypoxia due to blood loss and / or increased erythrocyte breakdown. Although under physiological circumstances daily only about 0.8% of the circulating erythrocytes are cleared. However, post-transfusion within 24 hours 10-25% of donor erythrocytes are lost from the circulation of a transfused patient. Furthermore, increased morbidity and mortality are associated with increasing storage time of erythrocytes a phenomenon called 'storage lesion'. We will investigate what happens with cold stored erythrocytes in the circulation and what their effect is on the vasculature. The effects (adhesion and / or phagocytosis) of the erythrocytes by endothelial cells will be studied using live-cell imaging and molecular cell techniques. Furthermore, we will investigate the effects of cold stored erythrocytes on vascular integrity using electric cell-substrate impedance sensing, live-cell imaging and molecular cell techniques. Finally, to test the results in a more pathophysiological setting, we will develop an ex-vivo model for blood transfusion and use (high-resolution) microscopy to investigate the erythrocyte-endothelium interactions. With our results we expect to improve blood transfusion efficiency and reduce the morbidity and mortality of post-transfusion patients.


  • Live cell (fluorescent) imaging
  • In vitro flow assays
  • Ex vivo imaging
  • Biochemical/molecular techniques
  • Electric cell-substrate impedance sensing


2012-present PhD student at the Dept of Molecular Cell Biology, Sanquin Research, Amsterdam
2012 MSc in Biomedical Sciences at Utrecht University
2012 Internship at the Hematology Dept, University Medical Centre, Utrecht
2011 Research Technician at the Dept of Experimental Cardiology, University Medical Centre, Utrecht
2010 Internship at the Dept of Experimental Cardiology, University Medical Centre, Utrecht
2010 BSc in Molecular Lifesciences, Maastricht University, Maastricht
2010 Internship at the Dept of Molecular Genetics, Maastricht University, Maastricht