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A Study of Intercellular Spaces in the Rabbit Jejunum during Acute Volume Expansion and after Treatment with Cholera Toxin

Donald R. DiBona, Lincoln C. Chen and Geoffrey W. G. Sharp

Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02114

Department of Anatomy, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115

Department of Physiology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115

Published May 1974

The effects of acute volume expansion and of intraluminal administration of cholera toxin have been examined in rabbit jejunum.

Acute volume expansion was shown to reverse the normal reabsorptive flux of water and cause significant fluid secretion. Phase and electronmicroscopic examination of the jejunal epithelium showed that marked distension of the intercellular spaces had occurred. Examination of the jejunal epithelium after treatment with cholera toxin showed that, in association with high rates of fluid secretion, the intercellular spaces were extremely small and lateral membranes of adjacent cells were in close apposition to one another. Thus the mechanisms of fluid secretion in these two situations would appear to be quite different. The secretion associated with volume expansion, and accompanied by a rise in venous pressure and bullous deformations of terminal junctions, could well be due to hydrostatic pressure applied through intercellular channels. The secretion of cholera appears to be unrelated to hydrostatic pressure and is more likely due to body-to-lumen active ion transport.

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