Quantitative fluorescence microscopy on single capillaries: α-lactalbumin transport

V. H. Huxley, F. E. Curry, R. H. Adamson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

131 Scopus citations


We have extended the use of a microscope densitometric technique [Am. J. Physiol. 245 (Heart Circ. Physiol. 14); H495-H505, 1983] to measure the solute permeability coefficients (P(s)) of fluorescently labeled solutes in single perfused capillaries of frog mesentery. The method enables the transcapillary flux of solutes larger than 10,000 mol wt to be measured under conditions where the forces that determine both solute and water flows across the capillary wall are known. The P(s) for α-lactalbumin (mol wt 14,176, Stokes radius 2.02 nm) increased from a mean value of 2.1 x 10-6 cm/s when capillary pressure was 3.0 cmH2O (no net filtration) to greater than 4.0 x 10-6 cm/s when capillary pressure was 15 cmH2O. Taking a value of 0.35 for the solvent drag reflection coefficient for α-lactalbumin, we conclude that the increased solute flux represents solvent drag through a water pathway with a hydraulic conductivity of 3.6 x 10-7 cm·s-1·cmH2O-1. Our data conforms to the hypothesis that α-lactalbumin is transported across the capillary wall by restricted diffusion and solvent drag in a pathway that carries 90% of the transcapillary water flow (the principle water pathway). In vitro and in vivo calibration experiments have been carried out to test the assumption that the measured fluorescent light intensity is proportional to the number of fluorescent molecules in the measuring window of the photometer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology


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