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Keywords:

  • human erythrocyte;
  • potassium;
  • detergents;
  • albumin;
  • membranes;
  • metabolism

Exchange of erythrocyte intracellular (i/c) K+for extracellular (e/c) Na+in human erythrocytes treated with sub-CMC concentrations of the non-ionic detergent Brij 58 can be stopped by reincubation in serum or albumin containing solutions. The progressive equilibration of the K+contents of detergent-treated human erythrocytes with the incubation medium was reversed by an albumin-mediated withdrawal of detergent molecules from the cell. Re-establishment of near normal [K+] in terms of K+/kg water proceeds in two ways: (i) a metabolism-dependent net accumulation of K+ions; and (ii) a metabolism-independent shrinkage of erythrocytes, this being the more significant factor.