Glycocalyx volume: A critical review of tracer dilution methods for its measurement

Charles C. Michel, Fitz Roy E Curry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


A clinical measure of endothelial glycocalyx structure would have great potential importance, because lesions of the glycocalyx may be the first changes to occur in diabetes and in a wide range of vascular diseases. A method recently described by Nieuwdorp et al. for estimating the volume of the luminal glycocalyx of the entire human vascular system would seem to be the first attempt to develop a measure of this kind. It is based on the tracer dilution principle, and this review considers the principles and conditions that underlie this method and the extent to which the conditions appear to have been fulfilled in this case. Our analysis raises two questions about 1) the estimation of the concentration of the tracer (dextran 40) at zero time and 2) the estimation of plasma volume, both of which can be answered by changes in experimental protocol. A third question, concerning the partition coefficient of the tracer between plasma and the fluid within the glycocalyx, cannot be answered at the present time, and until it has been resolved, glycocalyx volume cannot be estimated from the dilution of a macromolecular tracer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)213-219
Number of pages7
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2009


  • Glycocalyx volume measurement
  • Glycolcalyx
  • Indicator dilution
  • Rheomacrodex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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