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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Hemoglobinopathies: Hemoglobin S Disorders. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Cellular Dehydration

Cells containing hemoglobin S have a decreased capacity to maintain normal levels of potassium (K+). As K+ leaves the cell, water follows.

Two mechanisms are responsible for maintaining intracellular ion levels, the Gardos channel and the K+-Cl- channel. Both channels are abnormally activated in patients with sickle cell disease. The resulting loss of water from the cell increases the hemoglobin concentration and the chances for sickling.