The purpose of the present work is to investigate whether the idea of epithelial fluid transport based on electro-osmotic coupling at the level of the leaky tight junction (TJ) can be further supported by a plausible theoretical model. We develop a model for fluid transport across epithelial layers based on electro-osmotic coupling at leaky tight junctions (TJ) possessing protruding macromolecules and fixed electrical charges. The model embodies systems of electro-hydrodynamic equations for the intercellular pathway, namely the Brinkman and the Poisson-Boltzmann differential equations applied to the TJ. We obtain analytical solutions for a system of these two equations, and are able to derive expressions for the fluid velocity profile and the electrostatic potential. We illustrate the model by employing geometrical parameters and experimental data from the corneal endothelium, for which we have previously reported evidence for a central role for electro-osmosis in translayer fluid transport. Our results suggest that electro-osmotic coupling at the TJ can account for fluid transport by the corneal endothelium. We conclude that electro-osmotic coupling at the tight junctions could represent one of the basic mechanisms driving fluid transport across some leaky epithelia, a process that remains unexplained.
The Journal of Membrane Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Apr 20, 2006
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