The prolytic loss of K., i.e. the loss of K which takes place from red cells exposed to hypolytic concentrations of lysins, has been measured in systems containing distearyl lecithin, sodium taurocholate, sodium tetradecyl sulfate, saponin, and digitonin, by means of the flame photometer. The lysins are added in various concentrations to washed red cells from heparinized human blood, and the K in the supernatant fluids is determined after various intervals of time and at various temperatures. The prolytic loss Kp is compared in every experiment with the loss Ks into standard systems containing isotonic NaCl alone, with no lysin.
The losses Ks and Kp increase with time, so that new steady states are approached logarithmically. The values of Kp which correspond to the new steady states depend on the lysin used, being greatest with taurocholate and smallest with digitonin. The temperature coefficient of the loss is positive, and the extent and course of the losses have no apparent relation to the prolytic shape changes.
In systems in which the loss of K is appreciable, it can be inhibited by the addition of plasma or of either cholesterol or serum albumin. Of these two substances, even when used in quantities which have an approximately equal effect in inhibiting hemolysis, serum albumin is much the more effective.
Just as the prolytic loss of K occurs without the loss of any Hb, so in concentrations of lysin sufficient to produce hemolysis the loss of K, expressed as a percentage of the total red cell K, increases much more rapidly with lysin concentration than does the loss of Hb expressed as a percentage of the total Hb. The explanation of these relations depends on whether the loss of K is treated as being all-or-none in the case of the individual cell or as being the result of the loss of part of the K from all of the cells. This point has still to be decided.