Shedding of the endothelial glycocalyx in arterioles, capillaries, and venules and its effect on capillary hemodynamics during inflammation

Herbert H. Lipowsky, Lujia Gao, Ann Lescanic

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The endothelial glycocalyx has been identified as a barrier to transvascular exchange of fluid, macromolecules, and leukocyte-endothelium [endothelial cell (EC)] adhesion during the inflammatory process. Shedding of glycans and structural changes of the glycocalyx have been shown to occur in response to several agonists. To elucidate the effects of glycan shedding on microvascular hemodynamics and capillary resistance to flow, glycan shedding in microvessels in mesentery (rat) was induced by superfusion with 10- 7 M fMLP. Shedding was quantified by reductions of fluorescently labeled lectin (BS-1) bound to the EC and reductions in thickness of the barrier to infiltration of 70-kDa dextran on the EC surface. Red cell velocities (two-slit technique), pressure drops (dual servo-null method), and capillary hematocrit (direct cell counting) were measured in parallel experiments. The results indicate that fMLP caused shedding of glycans in all microvessels with reductions in thickness of the barrier to 70-kDa dextran of 110, 80, and 123 nm, in arterioles, capillaries, and venules, respectively. Intravascular volumetric flows fell proportionately in all three divisions in response to rapid obstruction of venules by white blood cell (WBC)-EC adhesion, and capillary resistance to flow rose 18% due to diminished deformability of activated WBCs. Capillary resistance fell significantly 26% over a 30-min period, as glycans were shed from the EC surface to increase effective capillary diameter, whereas capillary hematocrit and anatomic diameter remained invariant. This decrease in capillary resistance mitigates the increase in resistance due to diminished WBC deformability, and hence these concurrent rheological events may be of equal importance in affecting capillary flow during the inflammatory process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2235-2245
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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