Intact human erythrocytes can be readily loaded with calcium by incubation in hypersomotic media at alkaline pH. Erythrocyte calcium content increases from 15-20 to 120-150 nmol/g hemoglobin after incubation for 2 h at 20 degree C in a 400 mosmol/kg, pH 7.8 solution containing 100 mM sodium chloride, 90 mM tetramethylammonium chloride, 1 mM potassium chloride, and 10 mM calcium chloride. Calcium uptake is a time-dependent process that is associated with an augmented efflux of potassium. The ATP content in these cells remains at more than 60% of normal and is not affected by calcium. Calcium uptake is influenced by the cationic composition of the external media. The response to potassium is diphasic. With increasing potassium concentrations, the net accumulation of calcium initially increases, becoming maximal at 1 mM potassium, then diminishes, falling below basal levels at concentrations above 3 mM potassium. Ouabain inhibits the stimulatory effect of low concentrations of potassium. The inhibitory effects of higher concentrations of potassium are ouabain insensitive and independent of the external calcium concentration. Sodium also inhibits calcium uptake but this inhibition can be modified by altering the external concentration of calcium. The effux of calcium from loaded erythrocytes is not significantly altered by changes in osmolality, medium ion composition, or ouabain. It is concluded that hypertonicity increases the net uptake of calcium by increasing the influx of calcium and that some part of the sodium potassium transport system is involved in this influx process.

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