The investigation of two thermal properties of red cells throws some light on whether sickling is a process involving the crystallization of a relatively insoluble hemoglobin. These properties are the specific heat and the heat of compression, both of which would be expected to become numerically less if the hemoglobin of the red cell were to crystallize. In the case of paracrystalline rat red cells, which give spacings at 45 A and 58 A by x-ray diffraction, the specific heat is reduced to 85 per cent of that of the normal red cells, and the heat of compression is only about 75 per cent of that found for the normal red cell. In the case of the red cell sickled by a reduction of the O2 tension, the specific heat and the heat of compression are substantially the same as found for the normal red cell. This is an argument against sickling being the result of a crystallization process, and supports the observation that sickled cells do not give x-ray spacings. The result is compatible, on the other hand, with sickling being the result of the formation of an oriented and birefringent gel.

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