Diaphragmed fenestrae (DF) are sites of increased vascular permeability. The anionic charge distribution at the luminal aspect of the DF of the endothelium of the bone marrow vessels has been studied after aldehyde fixation by means of colloidal iron (CI), native ferritin (NF), and polycationic ferritin (PCF). At pH 1.8, these cationic agents are bound by the nonmodified luminal endothelial cell surface but not at the sites of the DF. PCF was used over a pH range of 1.8--7.2 (CI is unstable at higher pH levels, whereas NF which has a pI of 4.5 is anionic above this point). PCF shows increased binding at the DF from pH 3.5 upwards. PCF binding at pH 1.8 at the nonmodified luminal cell surface is significantly diminished by neuraminidase treatment which, however, does not perceptibly reduce PCF binding at the higher pH levels. It is concluded that there are exposed sialic acid groups at the lunimal cell surface which are absent or significantly fewer at the sites of the DF, whereas other anionic materials possibly with a pKa higher than that of sialic acid (pKa 2.6) are present both at the DF and at the nonmodified endothelial cell surface.

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