Effects of Calcium on Structure and Function of the Human Red Blood Cell Membrane

  • Hermann Passow
  • Melanie Shields
  • Paul La Celle
  • Ryszard Grygorczyk
  • Wolfgang Schwarz
  • Reiner Peters


The intracellular activity of ionized Ca++ in the red cell is below 0.4 nmoles/1 (Schatzmann, 1973; Simons, 1982; Lew et al., 1982b) and hence much lower than calculated from intracellular Ca++ content divided by red cell volume (Lichtman and Weed, 1973). This indicates that much of the Ca++ is bound to the cell membrane (Lichtman and Weed, 1973; La Celle et al., 1973; Porzig and Stoffel, 1978) and intracellular constituents. The latter include the phosphoric acid esters and hemoglobin (Ferreira and Lew, 1977), all of which act as Ca++ buffers. The low intracellular Ca++ activity is maintained although the membrane is leaky for Ca++ (Ferreira and Lew, 1977) and the concentration of free Ca++ in blood plasma (about 1200 nmoles/1) exceeds that in cytosol by about four orders of magnitude. The enormous gradient is balanced by a powerful Ca++ pump (for review see Schatzmann, 1983). At 37°C, the maximal rate of pumping is about 10 mmoles/1 cells/h. The half saturation concentration (K1/2) of the pump, and hence one of the essential factors that determines tne steady state Ca++ concentration, depends on the conditions inside the cell: the concentration of the energy supplying substrate ATP, the concentration of the activating calmodulin, and the concentration of Mg++ (calmodulin activates maximally when 1 Mg++ and 3 Ca++ ions are complexed). Under physiological conditions, K1/2 seems to be about 0.3 µmole/1 (Downes and Michel1, 1981).


Selective Channel Hereditary Spherocytosis Human Erythrocyte Membrane Trypsin Concentration Phosphoric Acid Ester 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hermann Passow
    • 1
  • Melanie Shields
    • 1
  • Paul La Celle
    • 2
  • Ryszard Grygorczyk
    • 1
  • Wolfgang Schwarz
    • 1
  • Reiner Peters
    • 1
  1. 1.Max-Planck-Institut fur BiophysikFrankfurt/MainFederal Republic of Germany
  2. 2.Department of Radiation Biology and BiophysicsUniversity of Rochester School of MedicineRochesterUSA

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