Methodology was developed to measure osmotic water permeability in monolayer cultured cells and applied to examine the proposed role of glucose transporters in the water pathway (1989. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 86:8397-8401). J774 macrophages were grown on glass coverslips and mounted in a channel-type perfusion chamber for rapid fluid exchange without cell detachment. Relative cell volume was measured by 45 degrees light scattering using an inverted microscope; measurement accuracy was validated by confocal imaging microscopy. The time required for greater than 90% fluid exchange was less than 1 s. In response to a decrease in perfusate osmolality from 300 to 210 mosM, cells swelled without lag at an initial rate of 4.5%/s, corresponding to a water permeability coefficient of (6.3 +/- 0.4) x 10(-3) cm/s (SE, n = 20, 23 degrees C), assuming a cell surface-to-volume ratio of 4,400 cm-1. The initial rate of cell swelling was proportional to osmotic gradient size, independent of perfusate viscosity, and increased by amphotericin B (25 micrograms/ml), and had an activation energy of 10.0 +/- 1 kcal/mol (12-39 degrees C). The compounds phloretin (20 microM) and cytochalasin B (2.5 micrograms/ml) inhibited glucose transport by greater than 85% but did not influence Pf in paired experiments in which Pf was measured before and after inhibitor addition. The mercurials HgCl2 (0.1 mM) and p-chloromercuribenzoate (1 mM) did not inhibit Pf. A stopped-flow light scattering technique was used to measure Pf independently in J774 macrophages grown in suspension culture. Pf in suspended cells was (4.4 +/- 0.3) x 10(-3) cm/s (assuming a surface-to-volume ratio of 8,800 cm-1), increased more than threefold by amphotericin B, and not inhibited by phloretin and cytochalasin B under conditions of strong inhibition of glucose transport. The glucose reflection coefficient was 0.98 +/- 0.03 as measured by induced osmosis, assuming a unity reflection coefficient for sucrose. These results establish a quantitative method for measurement of osmotic water transport in adherent cultured cells and provide evidence that glucose transporters are not involved in the water transporting pathway.

This content is only available as a PDF.