Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Summary the structure and function of blood capillaries, as related to permeability, depends on tight, close and (in injured vessels) open junctional regions, small vesicles, vacuoles (in injured vessels) and fenestrae. The basement membrane presents a hindrance to the larger macromolecules, at high flow rates, but not to small molecules. The connective tissue channels are probably the paths by which macromolecules, and most of the small ones, pass from the arterial-limbs to the venous ones, and to the lymphatics. In some regions these channels are grouped in special systems: the prelymphatics. The initial lymphatics take up material via open junctions, which close during tissue-compression. The collecting lymphatics retain the lymph because they do not have open junctions. In the close junctional regions the motive force for water flow is the result of Starling's forces; diffusion is very important for other small molecules. The small vesicles transport macromolecules slowly by Brownian motion, as may the vacuoles, but possibly these latter are moved actively. There is much evidence that colloids can develop high effective osmotic pressures even across pores much larger than their molecules, and that proteins can be dragged up a concentration gradient by the resultant fluid flow. On the basis of this, hypotheses have been developed about the functioning of venous-limb fenestrae and the initial lymphatics, for which there is much theoretical, in vitro, and in vivo evidence. Thus, in fenestrae and regions there is held to be a large local circulation through the tissues, of which a quantitatively small, but qualitatively vital, part goes to the lymphatics. Material is considered usually to enter these latter because of the relative concentration of the lymph. It is becoming increasingly evident that in the study of the microvasculature, as with other systems, there is much to be gained by quantifying fine structural observations and by combining and contrasting this data, via physical laws, with that obtained by other methods where the characteristics of whole organs and regions are studied. Thus one can obtain interrelated information, which is not possible by either method alone, and which gives us a vital, comprehensive, perspective of the ways in which whole systems function, and how different systems interact. In this paper I shall show how this approach has yielded much that is new about the functioning of different kinds of blood capillaries, of the tissue channels, of the whole lymphatic system, and of the ways they affect each other.
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