Abstract

Although the relations between the metabolic state and the mechanical properties of human red blood cells (RBC) continue to be of current interest, literature reports in this area are not in agreement. The present investigation was designed to determine several intrinsic mechanical properties of human RBC membranes before and after metabolic depletion via incubation at 37 degrees C for 24 hr. Using micropipette and flow channel techniques, three properties were measured: (1) mu, surface shear modulus of elasticity; (2) K, elastic area compressibility modulus; (3) etap, shear viscosity in the plastic domain. Our results indicate no significant differences in these parameters between fresh and ATP-depleted human RBC membranes. These present data are thus in disagreement with other literature reports indicating large changes in membrane mechanical properties consequent to metabolic depletion. A brief discussion of the possible reasons for this disagreement is presented.

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