The influence of molecular charge on glomerular permeability to the globular ferritin molecule in vivo was investigated. Mice (Charles River CD strain) and rats (Munich Wistar strain) were injected intravenously either with native anionic ferritin or various cationized derivatives with different isoelectric points (pI) and the kidneys were examined by electron microscopy. Native anionic ferritin was almost completely restricted from entry into the glomerular filter at the level of the endothelium and subendothelial layer of the glomerular basement membrane (GMB). Cationized derivatives penetrated the filter in increasing amounts depending on the pI of the tracer. Regardless of charge, all molecules that filtered through the lamina densa of the GBM and reached the subepithelial layer were completely restricted from entry into the urinary space at the level of filtration slits and appeared in phagosomes present in podocytes. Reduction of arterial pressure or cessation of renal blood flow did not influence the movement of ferritin molecules into the GBM. The results are consonant with physiological studies indicating charge dependent restriction of polyanion transport by the mammalian glomerulus. These tracer studies, in conjunction with cytochemical and biochemical evidence for the presence of polyanionic glycoproteins in the glomerular filter, suggest that glomerular restriction of plasma proteins occurs in part by a process similar to that which excludes negatively charged macromolecules in polyanionic gel systems.
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