Microvascular permeability

C. C. Michel, F. E. Curry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

707 Scopus citations


This review addresses classical questions concerning microvascular permeability in the light of recent experimental work on intact microvascular beds, single perfused microvessels, and endothelial cell cultures. Analyses, based on ultrastructural data from serial sections of the clefts between the endothelial cells of microvessels with continuous walls, conform to the hypothesis that different permeabilities to water and small hydrophilic solutes in microvessels of different tissues can be accounted for by tortuous three-dimensional pathways that pass through breaks in the junctional strands. A fiber matrix ultrafilter at the luminal entrance to the clefts is essential if microvascular walls are to retain their low permeability to macromolecules. Quantitative estimates of exchange through the channels in the endothelial cell membranes suggest that these contribute little to the permeability of most but not all microvessels. The arguments against the convective transport of macromolecules through porous pathways and for the passage of macromolecules by transcytosis via mechanisms linked to the integrity of endothelial vesicles are evaluated. Finally, intracellular signaling mechanisms implicated in transient increases in venular microvessel permeability such as occur in acute inflammation are reviewed in relation to studies of the molecular mechanisms involved in signal transduction in cultured endothelial cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)703-761
Number of pages59
JournalPhysiological Reviews
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology


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