The principal conclusion of this investigation is that the inhibitory effect of plasma or serum on hemolysis by saponin and lysins of the same type is similar in nature to the inhibitory effects of certain sugars and electrolytes, which again are similar to the acceleratory effects produced by indol, benzene, and other substances already studied. All these effects, both inhibitory and acceleratory, are the result of reactions between the inhibitors or accelerators and those components of the red cell membrane which are broken down by lysins.
The inhibitory effect of plasma on saponin hemolysis has a number of properties in common with the inhibition produced by sugars and electrolytes and with accelerations in general. (a) The temperature coefficient is small and negative. (b) The extent of the inhibition depends on the type of red cell used in the hemolytic system. (c) The most satisfactory measure of the extent of the inhibition, the constant R, is a function of the concentration of lysin in the system, and (d) R is a linear function of the quantity of inhibitor present.
It is also shown that the inhibitory effect of plasma, and serum is not entirely dependent on its protein content.
The process underlying the phenomenon of lysis and its acceleration or inhibition seems to be one in which the lysin reacts with a component or components of the cell membrane in such a way as to break down its semipermeability to hemoglobin, and in which the accelerator or inhibitor also reacts with the same component in such a way as to increase or decrease the effectiveness of the lysin in producing breakdown. The membrane is considered as being an ultrastructure made up of small areas or spots of varying degrees of resistance to breakdown, the resistances being distributed according to a negatively skew type of frequency curve, and the process of lysis seems to begin with the least resistant spots breaking down first. These spots may be arranged in some regular spatial pattern, and the membrane has also to be regarded as possessing spots of varying rigidity of form. The accelerator or inhibitor changes the resistance of every reactive spot in the ultrastructure by a factor R, which suggests that acceleration and inhibition are results of some over-all effect, such as that of changing the extent to which lysin is concentrated at the surface or partitioned between the material of the membrane and the surrounding fluid. Some kind of combination between the accelerator or inhibitor and the material of the ultrastructure is presumably involved; at first the combination seems to be a loose one and partly reversible, but later some of the loose links are replaced by more permanent combinations involving the same types of bond as are broken down by the lysins themselves.