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J Invest Dermatol. 1989 Aug;93(2 Suppl):62S-67S.

Endothelial barrier function.

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Department of Physiology, Albany Medical College of Union University, New York 12208.


The endothelial barrier in all organ beds allows the free exchange of water, but is restrictive to varying degrees to the transport of solutes such as albumin. For example, in the brain microvessels, the endothelial barrier restricts the transport of protein, whereas in fenestrated and continuous endothelial cells of the renal and lung endothelial cells, the endothelial barrier is semipermeable. The endothelial monolayer demonstrates selectivity, i.e., the permeation of molecules is inversely related to the molecular weight. Although the "pore" theory has been used to describe the transport across the endothelial barrier, the transport of solutes is also dependent on the charge of solutes and the endothelial cell, and the ability of the solute to bind to or be taken up by endothelial cells. Receptor-mediated trancytosis of albumin may contribute to albumin transport in addition to transport by paracellular pathways (i.e., through a so-called pore). Water permeability across the endothelium is determined by the interaction of albumin with glycocalyx and interstitial components of the endothelium (the "fiber matrix"). Ambient concentration of albumin serves to lower endothelial hydraulic conductivity. Increased endothelial permeability to solutes and water in inflammatory states is dependent on the shape and configuration of endothelial cells as determined by alterations in cytoskeletal elements, such as f-actin, and as regulated by intracellular second messengers such as free cytosolic calcium.

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