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Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)


Biological Sciences

First Advisor

F. R. Hunter

First Committee Member

Alice S. Hunter

Second Committee Member

Lee Christianson


Early studies of the permeability of the animal cell membrane were difficult to compare, because of the variety of cell types involved. In the late nineteenth century, workers chose to use erythrocytes due to their advantages over using a variety of cell types. With erythrocytes a comparison could be developed between strictly homologous cells of many different species. Erythrocytes are easily obtainable and mature cells are separate from all other cells of the body as well as from each other. Of even greater importance is the fact that the mature erythrocyte’s major function is the uptake of the greatest possible amount of gases and solutes in the shortest possible time and elimination of these materials without loss or change.

The erythrocyte eliminates the complications arising from metabolism of the penetrant being studied. This is attributed to the fact that the erythrocyte is metabolically almost inactive. TO illustrate this point, the human erythrocyte has a rate of glucose utilization of 0.019 ug/hr/million cells while the human leucocyte’s glucose utilization rate is 7.24 ug/hr/million cells or nearly 380 times as great (Guest et al., 1953). The importance of a nearly inactive cell is the lack of complications due to interpretation of data as a function of metabolic processes rather than membrane transport.



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