The Journal of Membrane Biology

, Volume 39, Issue 2–3, pp 185–218 | Cite as

Intracellular gradients of ion activities in the epithelial cells of theNecturus gallbladder recorded with ion-selective microelectrodes

  • Thomas Zeuthen


InNecturus gallbladder epithelial cells the intracellular electrical potential, as recorded with microelectrodes, varied from −28 mV in the mucosal end to about −50 mV in the serosal end of the transporting cell. The Na+ activity varied concurrently from about 39mm to between 8 and 19mm. Thus, within the cell both the recorded electrical and chemical gradients caused Na+ to move towards the serosal end. Serosal addition of ouabain (5×10−4m) caused the intracellular Na+ activity to attain electrochemical equilibrium within 30 min. However, the intracellular electrical potential gradient was only slowly affected. In cells from animals stored at 5°C, the Cl activity varied from about 55mm in the mucosal end to 28mm in the serosal end, and the K+ activity from 50mm to between 95 and 131mm. Both ions were close to electrochemical equilibrium within the cytoplasm but were too concentrated to be in equilibrium with the mucosal solution. Bubbling CO2 through the mucosal solution caused the intracellular gradients to vanish. When Na+ in the bathing solutions was exchanged for K+, the intracellular electrical potential became roughly constant at about −5 mV. The Cl activity became constant at 65mm, and the K+ activity became constant at 109mm, both close to equilibrium with the mucosal solution. The Na+ activity was reduced to about 1mm. The ratio of the cytoplasmic resistivities between cells bathed in K+-rich saline to cells bathed in Na+-rich saline was measured by means of triple-barreled electrodes and compared to the same ratio as assessed from the activity measurements. The two values were equal only if one assumes the mobility of Na+ inside the cell to be less than 1/10 of the mobility of K+ or Cl. The same conclusion was reached by comparing the intracellular Na+ flux calculated from the gradient of electrochemical potential to that flux assessed from the net solute absorption. Animals kept at 15°C had lower intracellular Na+ activities, higher Cl and K+ activities, and higher rates of absorption than animals stored at 5°C. Finally, the degree to which the intracellularly recorded electrical and chemical potentials could reflect an electrode artefact is discussed.


Epithelial Cell Solute Absorption Ouabain Bathing Solution Potential Gradient 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Zeuthen
    • 1
  1. 1.Physiological LaboratoryCambridgeEngland

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