, Volume 82, Issue 1, pp 67-82

General method for the derivation and numerical solution of epithelial transport models

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A general method is presented for the formulation and numerical evaluation of mathematical models describing epithelial transport. The method is based on the principles of conservation of mass, and maintenance of electroneutrality within the cells and bathing solutions. It is therefore independent of the specific membrane transport mechanisms, and can be used to evaluate different models describing arbitrary transport processes (including passive, active and cotransport processes). Detailed numerical methods are presented that allow computation of steady-state and transient responses under open-circuit, current-clamp and voltage-clamp conditions, using a general-purpose laboratory minicomputer. To evaluate the utility of this approach, a specific model is presented that is consistent with the Koefoed-Johnson and Ussing hypothesis of sodium transport in tight epithelia (Acta Physiol. Scand. 42:298–308, 1958). This model considers passive transport of an arbitrary number of permeant solutes, active transport of sodium and potassium, and osmotically induced water transport across the apical and basolateral membranes. Results of the model are compared to published experimental measurements in rabbit urinary bladder epithelium.