G6PD deficiency: energy deficiency blood cell breakdown hemoglobin

In the body, red blood cells containing hemoglobin are active to supply oxygen and remove carbon dioxide. To perform this function properly, the blood cells need energy. Blood glucose is used for this purpose. Due to G6PD deficiency, the supply of necessary energy is disrupted, which hinders the proper functioning of the blood cells. It leads to anemia or anemia combined with various complaints. What does this condition mean and why is the enzyme glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase necessary for blood cell energy balance?

G6PD deficiency

  • Necessity for proper functioning of red blood cells
  • Energy absorption and oxygen transport
  • What is glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency?
  • Possible causes
  • Consequences of a deficiency
  • X chromosome related

Necessity for proper functioning of red blood cells

Blood consists of blood plasma with platelets (thrombocytes) for hemostatic function, white blood cells for resistance and red blood cells. The last group contains hemoglobin, to which oxygen and carbon dioxide can be linked. This way the body can be supplied with oxygen-rich blood. It gives all muscles, tissues and organs sufficient strength to perform well without becoming exhausted. In other words, how good we feel and how good our health is depends partly on the proper functioning of red blood cells.

Energy absorption and oxygen transport

Blood cells need energy to perform functions optimally. To this end, glucose in the blood plasma (obtained from food) is used so that individual blood cells contain sufficient energy. Naturally, the transfer of energy to the blood cell must be regulated, for which the enzyme G6PD is responsible. The enzyme forms the energy exchanger, so that the blood cell can extract power from the blood plasma.

What is glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency?

To get sufficient energy, there must of course be sufficient enzyme particles in the blood. In the event of a deficiency, the blood cell will receive insufficient energy, as a result of which it can no longer function properly. The transfer of energy does not occur properly, which affects functioning. As a result, the oxygen transport capacity of the blood will increasingly decrease and anemia will develop. The blood cells will die due to the energy shortage and will be further broken down.

Possible causes

The most logical cause is a blood infection, which can affect many processes in the body. Certain preventive malaria medications can also influence the functioning of the enzyme. If you need to take malaria medication before your trip, you should pay attention to how your body reacts to it.

Consequences of a deficiency

How much trouble you have depends on the extent of the enzyme deficiency. Insufficient oxygen-rich blood ensures that the body is quickly exhausted and you have less strength. The person usually looks paler, and sometimes the body also looks yellowish. This is caused by an increase in bilirubin in the blood as a residual product of hemoglobin from red blood cells. In addition, the production of blood cells may have increased, with which the body tries to compensate for the shortage. It can cause the spleen to harden, causing it to swell. Gallstones can also form due to high concentrations of bilirubin and possibly urine color dark brown due to paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria. In addition, the heart has to work harder, which can cause irregularities and palpitations. This also requires more oxygen, which also causes the body to become exhausted extra quickly. Because the spleen is working hard, possibly in combination with gallstones, abdominal pain can occur.

X chromosome related

Both men and women can be carriers, but the symptoms often occur in men. The enzyme is bound to the X chromosome. Because men only have 1 of these and women have 2, male carriers in particular will suffer from it. The enzyme may therefore have limited activity or may not be present at all. Often the woman will not be bothered by it, because a good X chromosome is still present. However, there are known cases where women also experience serious inconvenience. In that case, both X chromosomes are affected in the woman. There are several variants of enzyme deficiency with similar consequences.

If the condition is diagnosed and the correct medication is administered, the complaints can be effectively counteracted. The aim is to optimally stimulate the production and maintenance of red blood cells by, for example, taking folic acid and B12 vitamins. Be well informed about how to adjust your lifestyle so that inconvenience is kept to a minimum.

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