Ouabain inhibits the increase due to palytoxin of cation permeability of erythrocytes

  • E. Habermann
  • G. S. Chhatwal


  1. 1.

    Palytoxin in concentrations as low as 1 pM raises the potassium permeability of rat, human and sheep erythrocytes, and the sodium permeability of human erythrocytes. The release of potassium or sodium from human cells also occurs when extracellular sodium is replaced by choline.

  2. 2.

    Ouabain inhibits the release due to palytoxin of potassium ions from human, sheep and rat erythrocytes, and also the release of sodium ions from human cells. The glycoside effect is specific since a) it is already prominent with 5×10−8 M ouabain b) rat erythrocytes are less sensitive than human cells to ouabain c) potassium release due to amphotericin B or the Ca2+ ionophore A23187 is not influenced by ouabain and d) dog erythrocytes are resistant to palytoxin as well as to ouabain.

  3. 3.

    Palytoxin has no direct influence on the Na+, K+-ATPase. It inhibits the binding of [3H]ouabain to erythrocyte membranes within the same concentration range as unlabelled ouabain. It partially displaces bound [3H]ouabain, and partially inhibits the inactivation of erythrocyte ATPase by the glycoside. Depletion of ATP or of external Ca2+ renders the cells less sensitive to palytoxin. Nevertheless inhibition by ouabain can be still demonstrated with human cells whose ATP stores had been largely exhausted, and also in the absence of external Ca2+.

  4. 4.

    Palytoxin decreases the surface tension at the air-water interface.


We assume that the formation of nonspecific pores by palytoxin is linked with its surface activity. Further experiments should demonstrate whether ouabain prevents the binding of palytoxin to erythrocytes (“receptor hypothesis”), or whether an ouabain-sensitive hydrolysis of trace amounts of ATP (“metabolic hypothesis”) promotes the palytoxin effect.

Key words

Palytoxin Ouabain Erythrocytes Permeability ATPase 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. Habermann
    • 1
  • G. S. Chhatwal
    • 1
  1. 1.Rudolf-Buchheim-Institut für PharmakologieGiessenGermany

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