The Journal of Membrane Biology

, Volume 55, Issue 3, pp 187–202

Microprobe study of toad urinary bladder in absence of serosal K+


  • Mortimer M. Civan
    • Department of ZoologyUniversity of Cambridge
  • Theodore A. Hall
    • Department of ZoologyUniversity of Cambridge
  • Brij L. Gupta
    • Department of ZoologyUniversity of Cambridge

DOI: 10.1007/BF01869460

Cite this article as:
Civan, M.M., Hall, T.A. & Gupta, B.L. J. Membrain Biol. (1980) 55: 187. doi:10.1007/BF01869460


The bulk of the intracellular potassium in mucosal epithelial cells from toad urinary bladder has been previously reported to exchange very slowly with the serosal medium, with a half-time of some 9 hr. This observation, based on chemical analyses of mucosal cell scrapings, has been reexamined with simultaneous diffractive and energy dispersive electron probe X-ray microanalysis. Fifty-three intracellular sites in hydrated sections and 286 sites in dehydrated sections were studied in bladders from eight toads under baseline conditions and after removal of serosal K+ for 83–133 min, with or without 10−2m ouabain. The baseline data confirm and extend previous examinations of the intracellular ionic composition, and provide the most direct measure of intracellular water thus far available for this tissue. Removal of serosal K+ reduced the intracellular K+ content by 20%, increased intracellular Na+ content threefold, and slightly reduced the intracellular Cl and water contents, qualitatively consistent with published chemical analyses. The intracellular Na+ content of mucosal origin, measured by radioactive tracers and chemical analyses of cell scrapings, has been reported to be unchanged under these conditions Simultaneous addition of ouabain and removal of external K+ produced a dramatic fall in intracellular K+ of more than 80% in a third of the cells and reduced the mean intracellular K+ content by 60%; 20% of the cells appeared to retain K+ more effectively than the bulk of the epithelial cell population. We conclude that: (i) the low rate of net exchange of intracellular K+ with the serosal bulk solution primarily reflects recycling of K+ across the basolateral membranes, (ii) radioactive tracer and chemical measurements of the intracellular Na+ pool of mucosal origin substantially underestimate the total intracellular Na+ content under certain experimental conditions, and (iii) the epithelial cells display a functional heterogeneity of response to the effects of adding ouabain and withdrawing external K+.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc 1980