Human peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL), when placed into hypotonic media, first swell and then shrink back to their original volumes because of a rapid KCl leakage via volume-activated K+ and anion permeation pathways. By using gramicidin, a cation channel-forming ionophore, cation transport through the cell membrane can be shunted so that the salt fluxes and thus the volume changes are limited by the rate of the net anion movements. The "gramicidin method," supplemented with direct measurements ofvolumeinduced ion fluxes, can be used to assess the effects of drugs and of various treatments on cation and anion permeabilities. It is demonstrated that quinine and cetiedil are much more effective blockers of volume-induced K+ transport than of Cl− transport, while dipyridamole, DIDS, and NIP-taurine inhibit only volume-induced Cl− movement. Oligomycins block both cation and anion transport pathways, oligomycin A being more effective in inhibiting K+ transport and oligomycin C preferentially blocking Cl− movement. Ca depletion of PBL abolishes volume-induced K+ transport but has no effect on Cl− transport. Repletion of cell calcium by ionophore A23187 immediately restores rapid K+ transport without significantly affecting volume-induced Cl− transport. These observations, taken together with other reported information, can be best explained by a model in which cell swelling activates independent CI− and K+ conductance pathways, the latter being similar in properties to the Ca2+- activated K+ transport observed in various cell membranes.
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