Horseradish peroxidase (mol. diam. ≃50 A) and ferritin (mol. diam. ≃110 A) were used as probe molecules for the small and large pore system, respectively, in blood capillaries of the intestinal mucosa of the mouse. Peroxidase distribution was followed in time, after intravenous injection, by applying the Graham-Karnovsky histochemical procedure to aldehyde-fixed specimens. The tracer was found to leave the plasma rapidly and to reach the pericapillary spaces 1 min post injection. Between 1 min and 1 min 30 sec, gradients of peroxidase reaction product could be demonstrated regularly around the capillaries; their highs were located opposite the fenestrated parts of the endothelium. These gradients were replaced by even distribution past 1 min 30 sec. Ferritin, followed directly by electron microscopy, appeared in the pericapillary spaces 3–4 min after i.v. injection. Like peroxidase, it initially produced transient gradients with highs opposite the fenestrated parts of the endothelium. For both tracers, there was no evidence of movement through intercellular junctions, and transport by plasmalemmal vesicles appeared less efficient than outflow through fenestrae. It is concluded that, in the blood capillaries of the inintestinal mucosa, the diaphragms of the endothelial fenestrae contain the structural equivalents of the small pore system. The large pore system seems to be restricted to a fraction of the fenestral population which presumably consists of diaphragm-free or diaphragm-deficient units.

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