The negative charges of the sulfated glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) of the glomerular basement membrane (GBM) were differentially neutralized by perfusin with high molarity buffers in order to determine whether or not these charges protect the GBM from being clogged by circulating plasma macromolecules. Progressive elimination of the negative charges resulted in clogging of the GBM by perfused native ferritin (NF) and bovine serum albumin as evidenced ultrastructurally by the increase in accumulation of NF in the GBM. In addition, the permeability of the GBM to 125I-insulin, a macromolecule which is normally freely permeable, and the glomerular filtration rate (as determined by [3H]inulin clearance) were markedly reduced after the GBM had been clogged with NF in the presence of high molarity buffer, thereby indicating that clogging severely reduces the ability of the GMB to act as a selective filter. These findings are consistent with the idea that the sulfated GAGs of the GBM serve as anticlogging agents.

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