Author(s): Henry CB, Duling BR
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Abstract The endothelial cell glycocalyx influences blood flow and presents a selective barrier to movement of macromolecules from plasma to the endothelial surface. In the hamster cremaster microcirculation, FITC-labeled Dextran 70 and larger molecules are excluded from a region extending almost 0.5 micrometer from the endothelial surface into the lumen. Red blood cells under normal flow conditions are excluded from a region extending even farther into the lumen. Examination of cultured endothelial cells has shown that the glycocalyx contains hyaluronan, a glycosaminoglycan which is known to create matrices with molecular sieving properties. To test the hypothesis that hyaluronan might be involved in establishing the permeation properties of the apical surface glycocalyx in vivo, hamster microvessels in the cremaster muscle were visualized using video microscopy. After infusion of one of several FITC-dextrans (70, 145, 580, and 2,000 kDa) via a femoral cannula, microvessels were observed with bright-field and fluorescence microscopy to obtain estimates of the anatomic diameters and the widths of fluorescent dextran columns and of red blood cell columns (means +/- SE). The widths of the red blood cell and dextran exclusion zones were calculated as one-half the difference between the bright-field anatomic diameter and the width of the red blood cell column or dextran column. After 1 h of treatment with active Streptomyces hyaluronidase, there was a significant increase in access of 70- and 145-kDa FITC-dextrans to the space bounded by the apical glycocalyx, but no increase in access of the red blood cells or in the anatomic diameter in capillaries, arterioles, and venules. Hyaluronidase had no effect on access of FITC-Dextrans 580 and 2,000. Infusion of a mixture of hyaluronan and chondroitin sulfate after enzyme treatment reconstituted the glycocalyx, although treatment with either molecule separately had no effect. These results suggest that cell surface hyaluronan plays a role in regulating or establishing permeation of the apical glycocalyx to macromolecules. This finding and our prior observations suggest that hyaluronan and other glycoconjugates are required for assembly of the matrix on the endothelial surface. We hypothesize that hyaluronidase creates a more open matrix, enabling smaller dextran molecules to penetrate deeper into the glycocalyx.
This article was published in Am J Physiol
and referenced in Journal of Bioequivalence & Bioavailability