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A striking feature of living cells is a marked difference between the composition of the cytosol and the extracellular milieu. Which of the following statement(s) concerning the mechanisms of maintenance of these differences is/are true?



A. The cell membrane is able to maintain a 10,000 fold gradient between the extracellular concentration of ionized calcium and the intracellular concentration
B. The key to these differences is the fact that the plasma membrane is normally impermeable to sodium, potassium and calcium
C. The selectivity of biologic membranes is highly consistent and seldom changes
D. The selectivity of cell membranes relates only to ions and not organic compounds

This question is part of basic surgery (100q).1

Asked by Melbourne, Last updated: Sep 14, 2020

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John Smith

John Smith

John Smith
John Smith

Answered Sep 09, 2016

The cell membrane is able to maintain a 10,000 fold gradient between the extracellular concentration of ionized calcium and the intracellular concentration-the survival of the cell requires that cytosolic composition be maintained within narrow limits, despite the constant influx of nutrients and the simultaneous outflow of waste. a familiar example of the distribution of ions across the cell membrane is that of sodium and potassium. cells are typically rich in potassium and contain very little sodium. despite the fact that they are constantly bathed by fluid that is precisely the opposite composition. even more impressive is the distribution of ionized calcium. the extracellular concentration of this ion is typically of the order of 103m, whereas that of cytosol is typically 107m, a 10,000-fold gradient. such nonequilibrium ion distributions are even more remarkable in light of the fact that the plasma membrane is, to varying degrees, leaky to ions such as sodium, potassium and calcium. the plasma membrane is leaky to a variety of substances, but it exhibits an astonishing ability to discriminate or select one substance over another. this selectivity relates to not only ions but also for organic compounds such as glucose. finally, the selectivity of biologic membranes can be altered drastically as a result of regulatory or signaling processes that occur within the cell.
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