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Research Article

Race and sex differences in erythrocyte Na+, K+, and Na+-K+-adenosine triphosphatase.

N Lasker, L Hopp, S Grossman, R Bamforth and A Aviv

Published June 1985

Several reports indicate that erythrocytes (RBCs) from blacks and men have higher sodium concentrations than those from whites and women. One possible mechanism to explain this finding is a difference in the activity of Na+-K+-ATPase. To explore this possibility, we have studied the Na+ and K+ kinetics of RBC Na+-K+-ATPase and RBC Na+ and K+ concentrations in 37 normotensive blacks and whites, both males and females. The maximal initial reaction velocity (Vmax) values for RBC Na+-K+-ATPase were lower in blacks and men as compared with whites and women. Higher RBC Na+ levels were observed in blacks and males vs. whites and females. Significant inverse correlations were noted between the Na+-K+-ATPase activity and RBC Na+ concentrations. These findings indicate that cellular Na+ homeostasis is different in blacks and men as compared with whites and women. Since higher RBC Na+ concentrations have also been observed in patients with essential hypertension as compared with normotensive subjects, the higher intracellular Na+ concentrations in blacks and men may contribute to the greater predisposition of these groups to essential hypertension.

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