The method of quantitative electron microscopy was applied to the measurement of protein concentration in thin sections. The human erythrocyte was selected as a model because of its apparently uniform protein concentration. Phosphotungstic acid (PTA) in aqueous solution was used as a reversible stain for protein, and PTA-stained Dowex resin spheres were embedded along with the red cells as standards for measurement of section thickness. The mass of stain removed from a given area of sectioned red cell by buffer (pH 7.4) was measured by quantitative electron microscopy. From the stoichiometry of the reaction between PTA and red cell protein established in this study, the amount of protein present in the measured area was calculated. From this amount of protein and the measured thickness, the concentration of protein was calculated and expressed as g/100 ml, for comparison with the clinical laboratory value for hemoglobin. Groups of red cells from the same sample were measured on 3 different days and their mean values (g/100 ml ± SD) were 29 ± 3.9, 30 ± 2.7, and 33 ± 4.6, compared to the clinical laboratory value of 32.1 g/100 ml packed cells, after correction for volume change and protein loss during fixation.

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