Scanning Microscopy


The concentrations of Na, Mg, P, S, Cl, K and Fe were determined by microprobe in near 100% hematocrit suspensions of rabbit and dog erythrocytes prepared by freezing and drying. These cells are representative, respectively, of "high" potassium, "low" sodium, and "high" sodium, "low" potassium cells. Water contents of the cells were the same, as were, approximately, the levels of Cl, S and Fe. Rabbit P was nearly double that of the dog. For the rabbit, the cell Na/K ratio was 0.21 and for the dog 15.4, illustrating the major diffusible electrolyte difference between these two types of cell. The rabbit erythrocytes showed an apparent negative immobile charge density of 95 meq/kg of cell water and the dog 56 meq/kg cell water, a distinct difference. Serum electrolytes in the two species are exactly comparable (Standard Tables). Ionic distribution in these cell types was treated by the Gibbs-Duhem equation representing two heterogeneous systems in thermodynamic equilibrium with the blood serum. Factors to be considered are: (1) the composition of the erythrocyte and its net immobile charge; (2) the physicochemical properties of the individual ions (charge, ionic radius, hydration energy, standard chemical potential); (3) the dielectric constant of the dispersion medium (in this case, water); and (4) the binding constants of the ions. The hypothesis of "active transport" (the sodium-potassium pump) is specifically rejected as an explanation of ionic differences.

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