The effect of solvent drag on the unidirectional efflux of labeled water, urea, and chloride from human red cells was studied by means of the continuous flow tube method under conditions of osmotic equilibrium and net volume flow. Solvent (water) flow out of cells was created by mixing cells equilibrated in 100 mM salt solution with a 200-mM or 250-mM salt solution, while flow of water into cells was obtained by equilibrating the cells in the higher concentration and mixing them with the 100-mM solution. Control experiments constitute measurements of efflux of [14C]ethanol in normal cells and 3H2O in cells treated with p-chloromercuribenzosulfonate under the conditions described above. In both instances, the solute is known to penetrate the membrane through nonporous pathways. As anticipated, the tracer flux of neither urea nor chloride showed any dependence on net solvent flow, regardless of the direction. If one assumes the recently reported reflection coefficient for urea of 0.7, the urea tracer flux should change by at least 24% under volume flow conditions. Since such changes would be easily detected with our method, we conclude that the pathways for water, for urea, and for chloride are functionally separated.

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