Bioelectric properties and ion transport of airways excised from adult and fetal sheep

C. U. Cotton, E. E. Lawson, R. C. Boucher, J. T. Gatzy

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39 Scopus citations


Segments of fetal and maternal trachea, maternal bronchi from near-term sheep, and trachea and bronchi from nonpregnant adult sheep were excised and mounted as sheets in Ussing chambers. The conductance (G) for each group of tissues was similar (~4 mS/cm-2); the short circuit current (I(SC)) ranged from 45-90 μA/cm-2. Under short-circuit or open-circuit conditions trachea and bronchi from pregnant and nonpregnant adult animals absorbed Na+, whereas fetal trachea secreted Cl-. Short-circuited maternal bronchi secreted K+, whereas maternal and fetal trachea did not. Isoproterenol induced an increase in I(SC), G, and Cl- secretion of fetal trachea. Maternal trachea and bronchi were not affected. Amiloride reduced Na+ absorption and I(SC) of maternal trachea and bronchi but had little effect on fetal trachea. The permeability of fetal trachea to 14C-mannitol was 17 x 10-7 cm/s and was not affected by isoproterenol. The permeation of dextran (10 K) and horseradish peroxidase across fetal trachea and of all three probes across maternal airways did not reach steady state, but the relative rates were compatible with an equivalent pore radius >4 nm. We conclude that ion transport in fetal large airways contributes to the Cl- and liquid secretion by the entire fetal pulmonary epithelium, whereas resting ion transport of large airways from adult sheep, like that of mature airways of many species, is dominated by Na+ absorption. All of these airway epithelia are characterized by large paracellular aqueous paths.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1542-1549
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology Respiratory Environmental and Exercise Physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1983
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Endocrinology


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