The electrical properties of the proximal tubule of the in vivo Necturus kidney were investigated by injecting current (as rectangular waves) into the lumen or into the epithelium of single tubules and by studying the resulting changes of transepithelial (VL) and/or cell membrane potential (VC) at various distances from the source. In some experiments paired measurements of VL and VC were performed at two abscissas x and x'. The luminal length constant of about 1,030 micrometer was shown to provide a good estimate of the transepithelial resistance, specific resistance (RTE = 420 omega.cm2) and/or per unit length (rTE = 1.3 x 10(4) omega.cm). The apparent intraepithelial length constant was subject to distortions arising from concomitant current spread in the lumen. The resistances of luminal membrane (rL), basolateral membrane (rB), and shunt pathway (rS) were estimated by two independent methods at 3.5 x 10(4), 1.2 x 10(4), and 1.7 x 10(4) omega.cm, respectively. The corresponding specific resistances were close to 1,200, 600, and 600 omega.cm2. There are two main conclusions of this study. (a) The resistances of cell membranes and shunt pathway are of the same order of magnitude. The figure of the shunt resistance is at variance with the notion that the proximal tubule of Necturus is a leaky epithelium. (b) A rigorous assessment of the conductive properties of concentric cylindrical double cables (such as renal tubules) requires that electrical interactions arising from one cable to another be taken into account. Appropriate equations were developed to deal with this problem.

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