Kinetics of erythrocyte swelling and membrane hole formation in hypotonic media

Alexander Pribush, Dan Meyerstein, Naomi Meyerstein

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29 Scopus citations


Red blood cell (RBC) swelling and membrane hole formation in hypotonic external media were studied by measuring the time-dependent capacitance, C, and the conductance, G, in the beginning of the β-dispersion range. At high and moderate osmolarities of the external solution the capacitance reaches a steady-state whereas at low osmolarities it reveals a biphasic kinetics. Examination of RBC suspensions exposed to different concentrations of HgCl2 demonstrates that water transport through mercury-sensitive water channel controls RBC swelling. Unlike the capacitance, an increase in the conductance to a stationary level is observed after a certain delay. A comparison of G(t) curves recorded for the suspensions of the intact cells and those treated with cytochalasin B or glutaraldehyde demonstrates the significant effect of the membrane viscoelasticity on the pore formation. It is shown that the stretched membrane of completely swollen RBC retains its integrity for a certain time, termed as the membrane lifetime, tmemb. Therefore, the resistivity of RBCs to a certain osmotic shock may be quantified by the distribution function of RBC(tmemb).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-132
Number of pages14
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Biomembranes
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2002


  • Capacitance/conductance
  • Hypotonic medium
  • Lysis
  • Red blood cell


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