fragility of red blood cells


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fragility of red blood cells

The tendency of red blood cells to rupture. This is determined by subjecting the cells to different concentrations of saline in laboratory tests.

If red blood cells are placed in distilled water, they swell rapidly and burst because they normally are suspended in a solution of much greater osmotic pressure. This phenomenon is called hemolysis. If they are suspended in a solution of normal saline, the cells retain their normal shape and do not burst. If they are placed in successively weaker solutions of saline, a point is reached at which some of the cells burst and liberate their hemoglobin within a given length of time. Finally, at a given dilution, all the cells have burst within the allotted time, which is usually 2 hr. Normal blood cells begin to hemolyze in about 0.44% saline solution, and complete hemolysis occurs in about 0.35% solution.

See also: fragility