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The term crenation comes from Latin word Crenatus which means notched or scalloped and it describes the shape of an object such as a leaf or a shell. But it can be applied to different types of objects. For example a cell’s contraction after being exposed to a hypertonic solution due to loss of water by osmosis.

Cell are in an isotonic solution inside the body which means there is the same concentration of solutes in and out of the cell. This allows the cells to keep their shape. However, when this isotonic environment is disrupted by a higher concentration of solute in the solution the cells face a hypertonic environment and so their intracellular water diffuses out. When cells release their water they start to shrivel and abnormal spikes or edges appear on the cell surface.

Crenation and Red Blood Cells

Red blood cells are the most discussed type of cells with reference to crenation. In normal circumstances, the RBCs are round in shape and indented from the center because of lack of a nucleus. But when they are exposed to a hypertonic environment, they release their water via osmosis and show a notched appearance.

However, RBCs may also have notched or spiked appearance due to some diseases like neurological diseases, liver disease or certain other diseases.

Applications of Crenation

Crenation is also used as a technique of preserving food. Pickling of food is a useful application of crenation which occurs in daily life. Salt curing of meat is also an example.

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