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Am J Physiol. 1988 Sep;255(3 Pt 1):C368-76.

Bacterial exotoxins and endothelial permeability for water and albumin in vitro.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Justus Liebig University, Giessen, Federal Republic of Germany.


Effects of Staphylococcus aureus alpha-toxin and Pseudomonas aeruginosa cytotoxin on the permeability of an endothelial monolayer were studied. Porcine pulmonary artery endothelial cells were grown on a polycarbonate membrane, mounted in a chamber, and exposed to a continuous hydrostatic pressure of 10 cmH2O. On application of this trans-endothelial pressure, endothelial monolayer became "sealed," i.e., the filtration rate for water decreased and the reflection coefficient for albumin increased, reaching a plateau after 1-2 h. Sealed monolayer had a hydraulic conductivity of 2.1 X 10(-6) cm.s-1.cmH2O and an albumin reflection coefficient of 0.73. Permeability of the monolayer was increased on addition of an excess of EDTA and reversed on readdition of calcium. Within 60-90 min after addition of 1 microgram/ml alpha-toxin, the filtration rate increased 75-fold, and the albumin reflection coefficient dropped to 0.20. These changes in permeability were accompanied by cell retraction and formation of large intercellular gaps between endothelial cells. Effects of alpha-toxin were abolished by preincubation with neutralizing antibodies and by inhibitors of calmodulin function. Pseudomonas aeruginosa cytotoxin (25 and 50 micrograms/ml) also increased the permeability of the endothelial monolayer, but it was only about one-third as effective as alpha-toxin.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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