1. Amiodarone is a potent anti-arrhythmic drug with lipophilic properties. The intercalation of such a drug into the membrane of erythrocytes may alter their shape and have an impact on the flow properties of blood. We therefore studied the influence of amiodarone on erythrocyte shape and deformability in vitro and in vivo.
2. Incubation in vitro with increasing amiodarone concentrations led to a progressive stomatocytic shape transformation and a decreased deformability of the erythrocytes.
3. Amiodarone treatment in eight patients did not affect erythrocyte morphology and deformability. However, an increase in the membrane cholesterol/phospholipid ratio was found.
4. The stomatocytic shape transformation of erythrocytes in vitro indicates that amiodarone intercalates in the inner hemileaflet of the lipid bilayer leading to membrane internalization. These results shed light on the interaction of amiodarone with biomembranes.