Permeability barriers must exist in transitional epithelium to prevent the free flow of water from underlying blood capillaries through the epithelium into the hypertonic urine, and such a barrier has now been demonstrated in isolated bladders. This barrier is passive in function and can be destroyed by damaging the luminal surface of the transitional epithelium with sodium hydroxide and 8 M urea solutions, by digesting it with trypsin, lecithinase C, and lecithinase D, or by treating it with lipid solvents such as Triton x 100 and saponin. From this it is concluded that the barrier depends on the integrity of lipoprotein cell membranes. The barrier function is also destroyed by sodium thioglycollate solutions, and electron microscope investigations show that sodium thioglycollate damages the thick asymmetric membrane which limits the luminal face of the superficial squamous cell. Cytochemical staining shows the epithelium to contain disulfide and thiol groups and to have a concentration of these groups at the luminal margin of the superficial cells. It thus appears that the permeability barrier also depends on the presence of disulfide bridges in the epithelium, and it is presumed that these links are located in keratin. Because of the effect of thioglycollates, both on the barrier function and on the morphology of the membrane, it is suggested that keratin may be incorporated in the thick barrier membrane. It is proposed that the cells lining the urinary bladder and ureters should be regarded as a keratinizing epitheluim.

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