The penetration of 14C-labeled ethylene glycol, erythritol, mannitol, and sucrose was measured in giant axons of various diameters isolated from the hindmost stellar nerves of Doryteuthis plei squid. Axon diameter depends mainly on the age of the squid. The influx of 22Na, some electrical properties, and the ultrastructure of the axolemma were also studied. The results confirm our previous observation that in medium sized axons of D. plei stimulation causes an increase in the permeability to the penetration of erythritol, mannitol, and sucrose. They also demonstrate that the magnitude of the increase in the penetration of these probing molecules diminishes progressively as the axon diameter increases. The diminution in permeability may be due to a reduction in size of the pathways used by nonelectrolytes to enter the axon. No effect of stimulation on the ethylene glycol permeability is observed. The sodium influx and electrical properties are independent of axon size. The ultrastructural study shows that the axolemma thickness increases with axon diameter. The present experiments indicate that the nonelectrolyte permeability of stimulated axons depends on nerve fiber properties related to axon diameter and on the size of the hydrophilic nonelectrolyte probe.

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