Na+/H+ exchange is increased in sickle cell anemia and young normal red cells

Mitzy Canessa, Mary E. Fabry, Sandra M. Suzuka, Kevin Morgan, Ronald L. Nagel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Red cell volume regulation is important in sickle cell anemia because the rate and extent of HbS polymerization are strongly dependent on initial hemoglobin concentration. We have demonstrated that volume-sensitive K:Cl cotransport is highly active in SS whole blood and is capable of increasing MCHC. We now report that Na+/H+ exchange (Na/H EXC), which is capable of decreasing the MCHC of erythrocytes with pHi<7.2, is also very active in the blood of patients homozygous for HbS. The activity of Na/H EXC (maximum rate) was determined by measuring net Na+ influx (mmol/liter cell·hr=FU) driven by an outward H+ gradient in oxygenated, acidloaded (pHi 6.0), DIDS-treated SS cells. The Na/H EXC activity was 33±3 FU (mean±se) (n=19) in AA whites, 37±8 FU (n=8) in AA blacks, and 85±15 FU (n=14) in SS patients (P<0.005). Separation of SS cells into four density-defined fractions by density gradient revealed mean values of Na/H EXC four to five times higher in reticulocytes (SS1), discocytes (SS2) and dense discocytes (SS3), than in the fraction containing irreversibly sickled cells and dense discocytes (SS4). In contrast to K:Cl cotransport, which dramatically decreases after reticulocyte maturation, Na/H EXC persists well after reticulocyte maturation. In density-defined, normal AA red cells, Na/H EXC decreased monotonically as cell density increased. In SS and AA red cells, the magnitude of stimulation of Na/H EXC by cell shrinkage varied from individual to individual. We conclude that Na/H EXC is highly expressed in SS and AA young red cells and decays slowly after reticulocyte maturation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-115
Number of pages9
JournalThe Journal of Membrane Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1990
Externally publishedYes


  • cation transport
  • erythrocyte
  • red cells
  • reticulocyte
  • sickle cell anemia
  • sodium-hydrogen exchange

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Physiology
  • Cell Biology


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