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Surg Gynecol Obstet. 1990 Dec;171(6):493-6.

Bladder surface glycosaminoglycans is a human epithelial permeability barrier.

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Division of Urology, University of California, San Diego Medical Center 92103.


Transitional epithelium of the bladder has been known to be impermeable. The data reported herein suggest the principal barrier to permeability may be glycosaminoglycans (GAG) of the surface of the bladder. We examined the ability of surface GAG to prevent a small molecule, urea, from moving across the epithelium in humans. It appears that GAG provide a physical barrier which prevents small molecules from reaching the underlying tight junctions and cell membranes and, hence, are a major permeability barrier. Normal volunteers (27) had 100 milliliters of a 200 grams per liter urea solution placed into their bladders for 45 minutes. Net flow of urea from the bladder lumen was 5.1 per cent. Volunteers who were capable of completing the study (19) had protamine sulfate (5 milligrams per milliliter) instilled in the bladder for 15 minutes, then removed and a second urea study done. Urea loss was significantly higher at 22 per cent (p less than 0.02). A solution of heparin (2,000 units per milliliter) was instilled for 15 minutes followed by a third urea study and urea loss was reversed to 9 per cent. All volunteers experienced significant urinary urgency and discomfort after protamine treatment which were reduced by heparin.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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