The purpose of this investigation was to correlate the viscoelastic properties and lipid fluidity of the red blood cell membrane to its lipid composition. The viscoelastic properties of human red cells that had been enriched or depleted in cholesterol were determined by the micropipette technique. The lipid fluidity of the outer and inner leaflets of the erythrocyte membrane was concurrently assessed by steady state fluorescence depolarization. The elastic modulus and the viscosity moduli of the erythrocyte membrane showed no significant differences between the cholesterol-modified and the control cells. Cholesterol enrichment decreased the lipid fluidity of the outer membrane leaflet alone, and cholesterol depletion increased the fluidity mainly of the inner leaflet. © 1983, The Biophysical Society. All rights reserved.
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