Isolated cortical collecting tubules from rabbit kidney were studied during perfusion with solutions made either isotonic or hypotonic to the external bathing medium. Examination of living tubules revealed a reversible increase in thickness of the cellular layer, prominence of lateral cell membranes, and formation of intracellular vacuoles during periods of vasopressin-induced osmotic water transport. Examination in the electron microscope revealed that vasopressin induced no changes in cell structure in collecting tubules in the absence of an osmotic difference and significant bulk water flow across the tubule wall. In contrast, tubules fixed during vasopressin-induced periods of high osmotic water transport showed prominent dilatation of lateral intercellular spaces, bulging of apical cell membranes into the tubular lumen, and formation of intracellular vacuoles. It is concluded that the ultrastructural changes are secondary to transepithelial bulk water flow and not to a direct effect of vasopressin on the cells, and that vasopressin induces osmotic flow by increasing water permeability of the luminal cell membrane. The lateral intercellular spaces may be part of the pathway for osmotically induced transepithelial bulk water flow.

This content is only available as a PDF.