Red cell Na-Li countertransport was measured in 78 normal subjects, 64 patients with essential hypertension, and 67 patients with hyperlipidemias. Both hypertensive and hyperlipidemic patients had elevated Na-Li countertransport compared to normal controls (p less than 0.001). Subjects with hyperlipidemia and hypertension had higher countertransport (p less than 0.02) than patients with only hyperlipidemia. Normotensive hyperlipidemic subjects had higher countertransport than normotensive and normolipidemic controls (p less than 0.02). This suggest that hypertension and high plasma lipids can influence independently the Na-Li countertransport. In another group of 52 normotensive subjects, Na-Li countertransport was positively correlated with serum total and free (unesterified) cholesterol, phospholipids and triglycerides. No correlations were found with HDL-cholesterol or HDL-phospholipids. A very high positive correlation was found between Na-Li countertransport and plasma acetylcholinesterase (p less than 0.005). These findings suggest that plasma lipids, probably through membrane lipids, can affect the maximal rate of the Na-Li exchange in red cells. The relationship between plasma or membrane lipids and cation transport should be further studied in erythrocytes and other cells.
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