Studies on the Intercellular Junctions of Mesothelium and Endothelium

  • R. S. Cotran
  • G. Majno


The passage of substances across the endothelial barrier may occur—theoretically at least [1]—by two main pathways: a) Through the cells. Particles of colloidal gold [2] or molecules of ferritin [3] injected into the plasma are taken up by the pinocytic vesicles of the endothelial cells, and thereafter appear in the extravascular spaces. This and other forms of trans-cellular passage will not be dealt within this paper. b) Between the cells. Interest in the intercellular junction as a potential pathway is stimulated by physiologic studies, which indicate that trans-endothelialpassage of ions and small molecules is a passive process. Dyes injected infra-arterially escape at discrete points along venules and capillaries [4], in a manner which could not be adequately explained by pinocytic transfer [1]. It has been stated that the endothelial cells are connected by “tight junctions” or zonulae occludenles 15, 61. It has not, however, been shown that these junctions forni a continuous band around each cell, and that they do indeed represent a tight seal. The zone of membrane “fusion” could represent, rather than a seal, a very fine filter permeable to water and to very small molecules 17, 8]. By electron microscopy, the passage of tracer particles along junctions which appeared to be still “closed” has been observed [9]: these studies were done in vitro, on rat hearts perfused with a saline solution containing particles of saccharated iron oxide (S.I.O.).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 1967

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. S. Cotran
    • 1
  • G. Majno
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PathologyHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA

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