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Diffusional water permeability of human erythrocytes and their ghosts

The Journal of General Physiology

The Rockefeller University Press

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      The diffusional water permeability of human red cells and ghosts was determined by measuring the rate of tracer efflux by means of an improved version of the continuous flow tube method, having a time resolution of 2-3 ms. At 25 degrees C, the permeability was 2.4 x 10(3) and 2.9 x 10(3) cm s-1 for red cells and ghosts, respectively. Permeability was affected by neither a change in pH from 5.5 to 9.5, nor by osmolality up to 3.3 osmol. Manganous ions at an extracellular concentration of 19 mM did not change diffusional water permeability, as recently suggested by NMR measurements. A "ground" permeability of 1 x 10(3) cm s-1 was obtained by inhibition with 1 mM of either p- chloromercuribenzoate (PCMB) or p-chloromercuribenzene sulfonate (PCMBS). Inhibition increased temperature dependence of water permeability for red cells and ghosts from 21 to 30 kJ mol-1 to 60 kJ mol-1. Although diffusional water permeability is about one order of magnitude lower than osmotic permeability, inhibition with PCMB and PCMBS, temperature dependence both before and after inhibition, and independence of osmolality showed that diffusional water permeability has qualitative features similar to those reported for osmotic permeability, which indicates that the same properties of the membrane determine both types of transport. It is suggested that the PCMB(S)- sensitive permeability above the ground permeability takes place through the intermediate phase between integral membrane proteins and their surrounding lipids.

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      Author and article information

      J Gen Physiol
      The Journal of General Physiology
      The Rockefeller University Press
      1 May 1982
      : 79
      : 5
      : 791-819

      Anatomy & Physiology


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