D

Figure 4-8

Effect of concentration difference (A), electrical potential difference affecting negative ions (B), and pressure difference (C) to cause diffusion of molecules and ions through a cell membrane.

right, creating the condition shown in the right panel of Figure 4-85, in which a concentration difference of the ions has developed in the direction opposite to the electrical potential difference. The concentration difference now tends to move the ions to the left, while the electrical difference tends to move them to the right. When the concentration difference rises high enough, the two effects balance each other. At normal body temperature (37°C), the electrical difference that will balance a given concentration difference of univalent ions—such as sodium (Na+) ions—can be determined from the following formula, called the Nernst equation:

in which EMF is the electromotive force (voltage) between side 1 and side 2 of the membrane, C1 is the concentration on side 1, and C2 is the concentration on side 2. This equation is extremely important in understanding the transmission of nerve impulses and is discussed in much greater detail in Chapter 5.

Effect of a Pressure Difference Across the Membrane. At times, considerable pressure difference develops between the two sides of a diffusible membrane. This occurs, for instance, at the blood capillary membrane in all tissues of the body. The pressure is about 20 mm Hg greater inside the capillary than outside.

Pressure actually means the sum of all the forces of the different molecules striking a unit surface area at a given instant. Therefore, when the pressure is higher on one side of a membrane than on the other, this means that the sum of all the forces of the molecules striking the channels on that side of the membrane is greater than on the other side. In most instances, this is caused by greater numbers of molecules striking the membrane per second on one side than on the other side. The result is that increased amounts of energy are available to cause net movement of molecules from the high-pressure side toward the low-pressure side. This effect is demonstrated in Figure 4-8 C, which shows a piston developing high pressure on one side of a "pore," thereby causing more molecules to strike the pore on this side and, therefore, more molecules to "diffuse" to the other side.

Water

NaCl solution

Water

NaCl solution

Osmosis

Figure 4-9

Osmosis

Figure 4-9

Osmosis at a cell membrane when a sodium chloride solution Is placed on one side of the membrane and water is placed on the other side.

Osmosis Across Selectively Permeable Membranes— "Net Diffusion" of Water

By far the most abundant substance that diffuses through the cell membrane is water. Enough water ordinarily diffuses in each direction through the red cell membrane per second to equal about 100 times the volume of the cell itself. Yet, normally, the amount that diffuses in the two directions is balanced so precisely that zero net movement of water occurs. Therefore, the volume of the cell remains constant. However, under certain conditions, a concentration difference for water can develop across a membrane, just as concentration differences for other substances can occur. When this happens, net movement of water does occur across the cell membrane, causing the cell either to swell or to shrink, depending on the direction of the water movement. This process of net movement of water caused by a concentration difference of water is called osmosis.

To give an example of osmosis, let us assume the conditions shown in Figure 4-9, with pure water on one side of the cell membrane and a solution of sodium chloride on the other side. Water molecules pass through the cell membrane with ease, whereas sodium and chloride ions pass through only with difficulty. Therefore, sodium chloride solution is actually a mixture of permeant water molecules and nonperme-ant sodium and chloride ions, and the membrane is said to be selectively permeable to water but much less so to sodium and chloride ions. Yet the presence of the sodium and chloride has displaced some of the water molecules on the side of the membrane where these ions are present and, therefore, has reduced the concentration of water molecules to less than that of pure water. As a result, in the example of Figure 4-9, more water molecules strike the channels on the left side, where there is pure water, than on the right side, where the water concentration has been reduced. Thus, net movement of water occurs from left to right—that is, osmosis occurs from the pure water into the sodium chloride solution.

Osmotic Pressure

If in Figure 4-9 pressure were applied to the sodium chloride solution, osmosis of water into this solution would be slowed, stopped, or even reversed. The exact amount of pressure required to stop osmosis is called the osmotic pressure of the sodium chloride solution.

The principle of a pressure difference opposing osmosis is demonstrated in Figure 4-10, which shows a selectively permeable membrane separating two columns of fluid, one containing pure water and the other containing a solution of water and any solute that will not penetrate the membrane. Osmosis of water from chamber B into chamber A causes the levels of the fluid columns to become farther and farther apart, until eventually a pressure difference develops between the two sides of the membrane great enough to oppose the osmotic effect. The pressure difference across the membrane at this point is equal to the osmotic pressure of the solution that contains the nondiffusible solute.

Importance of Number of Osmotic Particles (Molar Concentration) in Determining Osmotic Pressure. The osmotic pressure exerted by particles in a solution, whether they are molecules or ions, is determined by the number of particles per unit volume of fluid, not by the mass of the particles. The reason for this is that each particle in a solution, regardless of its mass, exerts, on average, the same amount of pressure against the membrane. That is, large particles, which have greater mass (m) than small particles, move at slower velocities (v). The small particles move at higher velocities in such a way

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