The interaction of lipid vesicles (liposomes) of several different compositions with erythrocytes has been investigated. Lecithin liposomes, rendered positively charged with stearylamine, exhibit potent hemagglutination activity in media containing low concentrations of electrolytes. The hemagglutination titer is found to be a linear function of the zeta potential of the lipid vesicles. Hemagglutination is reduced when the surface potential of the cells is made more positive by pH adjustment or enzyme treatment. Similarly, hemagglutination is reduced by increasing concentrations of electrolytes. Hemagglutination is examined theoretically and is shown to be consistent with vesicle-cell interactions that are due to only electrostatic forces. Vesicles containing lysolecithin in addition to lecithin and stearylamine cause lysis of erythrocytes, provided the lipids of the vesicles are above the crystal-liquid crystal phase transition temperature. In addition, hemolysis requires close juxtaposition of the vesicle to the cell membrane; vesicles precoated with antibodies exhibit severely diminished hemolytic activities, only a small fraction of which can be attributed to a reduction in hemagglutination titer. Evidence is presented indicating that a single vesicle is sufficient to lyse one cell. With regard to hemagglutination and hemolysis, lipid vesicles of simple composition mimic paramyxoviruses such as Sendai virus.

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