The structure of the urinary bladder of the toad Bufo marinus was studied by light and electron microscopy. The epithelium covering the mucosal surface of the bladder is 3 to 10 microns thick and consists of squamous epithelial cells, goblet cells, and a third class of cells containing many mitochondria and possibly representing goblet cells in early stages of their secretory cycle. This epithelium is supported on a lamina propria 30 to several hundred microns thick and containing collagen fibrils, bundles of smooth muscle fibers, and blood vessels. The serosal surface of the bladder is covered by an incomplete mesothelium. The cytoplasm of the squamous epithelial cells, which greatly outnumber the other types of cells, is organized in a way characteristic of epithelial secretory cells. Mitochondria, smooth and rough surfaced endoplasmic reticulum, a Golgi apparatus, "multivesicular bodies," and isolated particles and vesicles are present. Secretion granules are found immediately under the plasma membranes of the free surfaces of the epithelial cells and are seen to fuse with these membranes and release their contents to contribute to a fibrous surface coating found only on the free mucosal surfaces of the cells. Beneath the plasma membranes on these surfaces is an additional, finely granular component. Lateral and basal plasma membranes are heavily plicated and appear ordinary in fine structure. The cells of the epithelium are tightly held together by a terminal bar apparatus and sealed together, with an intervening space of only 0.02 mµ near the bladder lumen, in such a way as to prevent water leakage between the cells. It is demonstrated in in vitro experiments that water traversing the bladder wall passes through the cytoplasm of the epithelial cells and that a vesicle transport mechanism is not involved. In vitro experiments also show that the basal (serosal) surfaces of the epithelial cells are freely permeable to water, while the free (mucosal) surfaces are normally relatively impermeable but become permeable when the serosal surface of the bladder is treated with neurohypophyseal hormones. The permeability barrier found at the mucosal surface may be represented, structurally, either by the filamentous layer lying external to the plasma membrane, by the intracellular, granular component found just under the plasma membrane, or by both of these components of the mucosal surface complex. The polarity of the epithelial sheet is emphasized and related to the physiological role of the urinary bladder in amphibian water balance mechanisms.

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