Purified human globin injected into rats forms aggregates which are identifiable by their characteristic appearance in thin sections in the electron microscope and by their positive autoradiographs when the globin is tritiated before injection. Globin is taken up by endothelial cells of glomerular capillaries and is transported across the cell within the limits of a surrounding membrane. Globin is rarely seen to pass through fenestrations. Globin is also taken into the stalk region where it is seen usually within the sponge fibers and only occasionally within stalk cells. Globin is seen in all stages of passage through the basement membranes and sponge fibers, which are not deformed by its passage. On the basis of the findings presented here and by others, it is postulated that the basement membrane and sponge fibers consist of a thixotrophic gel.
After traversing the basement membrane, the globin passes between foot processes of the epithelial cells. The slit membranes are deformed by this passage and thus appear to be distinctive structures. The globin is next found free in Bowman's space; the earliest aggregates are seen there within 1 minute after injection.
Globin taken up in the stalk region is slowly discharged and very little is found there 6 hours postinjection.