The Kedem-Katchalsky (KK) equations are often used to obtain information about the osmotic properties and conductance of channels to water. Using human red cell membranes, in which the osmotic flow is dominated by Aquaporin-1, we show here that compared to NaCl the reflexion coefficient of the channel for methylurea, when corrected for solute volume exchange and for the water permeability of the lipid membrane, is 0.54. The channels are impermeable to these two solutes which would seem to rule out flow interaction and require a reflexion coefficient close to 1.0 for both. Thus, two solutes can give very different osmotic flow rates through a semi-permeable pore, a result at variance with both classical theory and the KK formulation. The use of KK equations to analyze osmotic volume changes, which results in a single hybrid reflexion coefficient for each solute, may explain the discrepancy in the literature between such results and those where the equations have not been employed.
The Journal of Membrane Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Feb 1, 2001
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