Summary. Human erythrocytes from healthy male donors were fractionated with respect to in vivo age by simple centrifugation in order to characterize changes in the functional integrity of the membrane during the life‐span of the cell. The three enzymes, Na/K‐ATPase, glyceraldehyde‐3‐phosphate dehydrogenase and NADH‐ferricyanide reductase, were found not to change with age, but significant age‐dependent decreases were observed in the cases of acetylcholinesterase, phosphoglycerate kinase, purine nucleoside phosphorylase, adenylate kinase, Mg‐ATPase and alkaline phosphatase. The possibility mat these changes were attributable to mechanisms other than age‐related inactivation, such as reticulocyte contamination, differential resealing and crypticity, was investigated. Only the decrease in acetylcholinesterase could be explained wholly in terms of reticulocyte contamination. A decrease in membrane integrity on ageing was observed, which accounted for approximately half the change in alkaline phosphatase and may have contributed to the other enzyme activity changes. This membrane integrity effect masked a real decrease in the highly cryptic NADH‐ferricyanide reductase, this decrease being apparent only after total disaggregation of the membrane with nonionic surfactant.
British Journal of Haematology – Wiley
Published: Sep 1, 1977
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