February 1971

Irreversible Changes in the Red Blood Cell Membrane During Hypotonic Swelling

Author Affiliations

Columbus, Ohio; Washington, DC; Columbus, Ohio

From the departments of medicine, Ohio State University College of Medicine, Columbus (Drs. Metz, Larrimer, and Balcerzak) and the George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC (Dr. Jensen).

Arch Intern Med. 1971;127(2):273-277. doi:10.1001/archinte.1971.00310140101013

The scanning electron microscope was used to study the morphological features of human red blood cells during hypotonic swelling. During exposure to hypotonic swelling the majority of cells assumed the shape of swollen cups with a single deep concavity. Approximately 10% of the cells, however, had deep pits or invaginations of membrane within the central concavity. This appeared to result from internal trapping of the membrane during the swelling process and was not reversible when the cells were returned to isotonicity.