The function of the mural components involved in vascular exchange (pinocytotic vesicles, fenestrations, intercellular junctions, and the basal lamina) was assessed by intravascular injection of tracers (carbon, carbon plus histamine, ferritin, hemoglobin, and myoglobin) on separate gestational days in fetal and neonatal rat intestinal capillaries. The continuous capillaries present through day 17 of gestation were impermeable, even at junctions, to all the tracers within the maximum circulation time studied (3 minutes). Most of the luminal pinocytotic vesicles were labeled within 3 minutes with myoglobin (3.3-nm diameter) or hemoglobin (5.5-nm diameter), while only occasional vesicles contained ferritin (11-nm diameter) and none contained carbon (25-50nm diameter). Even though luminal pinocytotic vesicles contained the smaller tracers, no vesicular transport and discharge were ever seen. The fenestrated vessels present from day 18 of gestation allowed a rapid extravasation of ferritin and hemoglobin via diaphragmed fenestrations. At no time period did extravasation of carbon take place, nor did the carbon plus histamine solution induce vascular leakage. Once a tracer gained access to the extravascular space, the developing basal lamina did not seem to retard its movement.
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