The inhibition of water diffusion across the rat erythrocyte membrane was studied by NMR using two basically different types of inhibitory agents: PCMB and in vivo irradiation. The contribution of lipid and protein to water permeability revealed the inhibitory effect of each pathway. Internal contamination with tritium (25–115 mGy) reduces water permeability due to protein modifications; for doses higher than 100 mGy the lipid mediated mechanism seems also to be impaired. The same procedure enables one to assess the extent to which the higher water permeability of rat, compared to human, erythrocyte is due to one of the two pathways.

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