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Biophys J. 1975 Sep;15(9):887-906.

Permselectivity of the glomerular capillary wall to macromolecules. II. Experimental studies in rats using neutral dextran.


To determine the permselectivity characteristics of the glomerular capillary wall, known molecular size fractions of [3H]dextran, prepared by gel chromatography, were infused into normally hydrated Wistar rats, thus permitting simultaneous measurement of Bowman's space/plasma water (BS/P) and urine/plasma water (U/P) concentration ratios, along with glomerular pressures and flows. Since (BS/P)inulin = 1.01 +/- 0.01 SE(n = 34, radius = approximately 14 A) and since (BS/P)dextran/(BS/P)inulin equaled (U/P)dextran/(U/P)inulin for dextrans ranging in molecular radius from 21 to 35 A, these findings validate that dextrans are neither secreted nor reabsorbed. For dextran radii of 20, 24, 28, 32, 36, 40, and 44 A, (U/P)dextran/(U/P)inulin averaged 0.99, 0.92, 0.69, 0.42, 0.19, 0.06, and 0.01, respectively. In accord with theoretical predictions that these fractional dextran clearances should vary appreciably with changes in glomerular transcapillary pressures and flows, an increase in glomerular plasma flow rate, induced in these same rats by plasma volume expansion, resulted in a highly significant lowering of fractional clearance of all but the smallest and largest dextrans studied. These findings emphasize that fractional solute clearances alone are inadequate to describe the permselective properties of the glomerular capillary wall unless glomerular pressures and flows are also known. This sensitivity of fractional dextran clearance to changes in plasma flow indicates that dextrans are transported across the capillary not only by bulk flow but also to an important extent by diffusion.

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