FRANCIS LEROY & GEORGES LAMBERT, BIOCOSMOS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY FRANCIS LEROY & GEORGES LAMBERT, BIOCOSMOS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Red blood cell in hypotonic solution. This hypotonic solution has less urea (blue and black molecules) than the inside of the red blood cell (shown by circular outline). This means water diffuses across the cell's semi-permeable membrane into the cell. The red blood cell swells and loses its distinctive concave shape, and potentially bursts. It cannot function as efficiently in this state.
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