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Blood Cell Research

Blood transfusion is an established option to manage anemia in operations, especially among critically ill patients. We have recently (year 2014) started the research in R&D department relating directly to the cell biology and functionality of RBCs and PLTs. More precisely we are studying the aging, activation and/or storage lesion of these cells during production processes.

​An association between the age of red blood cells (RBC) during transfusion and the mortality of critically ill patients has been suggested, but remains to be verified. The effect may be related to the changes in the functionality and characteristics of RBCs during longer storage (Almizraq et al. 2013, van de Watering 2011). Although less studied, a longer storage of platelets also may affect the outcomes of their infusion to trauma patients (Inaba et al. 2011). Hence, there is need for both advanced indicators of the functionality of blood products and for well-conducted clinical studies. In current research program SalWe GID, we address these questions by developing novel indicators or biomarkers for functionality and quality RBCs and PLTs. Particularly want to test how much information extracellular vesicles (EVs) can give of the condition and function of the blood products. In the future, the aim is to shift the research emphasis more on the biological function of EVs and blood cells. The study is carried out in collaboration with the hospital group (HUCS/Pettilä) and research group specialized to develop EV analysis technologies (UH/Siljander).

Our main research questions are as follows:

1.Glyserophospholipids and bioactive lipids in blood cells and their extracellular vesicles

- Blood cell aging and storage lesion

- Platelet activation

2.RNA profiles in red blood cells and their vesicles – is there a biologically relevant function?

3.Blood cells and plasma vesicles; methodological development and biological function at more general level

- e.g. cell interactions, immunological functions

There is a long tradition in the research activities related to haemostasis and more information can be find here.


Erja Kerkelä, PhD, Adj. Prof. (red blood cells)

Eva Lauren, MD, PhD student (red blood cells)

Pirkko Mattila, PhD, Adj. Prof. (red blood cells, RNA)

Antti Larjo, PhD (bioinformatics)

Saara Laitinen, PhD (platelets)

Sami Valkonen, MSc, PhD student (platelets)

Lotta Sankkila, MSc, Technician

Annika Koponen, MSc student



University of Helsinki, Department of Biosciences, Division of Biochemistry and Biotechnology, EV Group

Pia Siljander, PhD, Adj. Prof.

Maarit Takatalo, PhD

Sami Valkonen, MSc, PhD student


University of Helsinki, Department of Biosciences, Physiology and Neuroscience, Helsinki University Lipidomics Unit

Reijo Käkelä, PhD, Adj. Prof.

Feven Tigistu-Sahle, MSc, PhD Student


University of Helsinki, Faculty of Pharmacy, Division of Pharmaceutical Biosciences, Centre for Drug Research

Marjo Yliperttula, Prof.

Tapani Viitala, PhD

Teemu Suutari, MSc, PhD student


Helsinki University Hospital, Intensive Care Unit

Ville Pettilä, MD, PhD


University of Helsinki, Department of Biosciences, Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM)

Taija af Hällström, PhD

Maija Puhka, PhD


Key Publications

Biological properties of extracellular vesicles and their physiological functions. Yáñez-Mó M, Siljander PR,…Laitinen S,…Nyman TA48, ...De Wever O. J Extracell Vesicles. 2015 May 14;4:27066. PM:  25979354

Aatonen MT, Ohman T, Nyman TA, Laitinen S, Grönholm M, Siljander PR. Isolation and characterization of platelet-derived extracellular vesicles. J Extracell Vesicles. 2014 Aug 6;3:103402. PM: 25147646


Saara Laitinen, PhD,

saara.laitinen(at) (platelets)

Erja Kerkelä, PhD, Adj. Prof.,

(red blood cells)