The endothelial glycocalyx forms a hyaluronan-containing interface between the flowing blood and the endothelium throughout the body. By comparing the systemic distribution of a small glycocalyxaccessible tracer vs. a large circulating plasma tracer, the sizeselective barrier properties of the glycocalyx have recently been utilized to estimate whole body glycocalyx volumes in humans and animals, but a comprehensive validation of this approach has been lacking at the moment. In the present study, we compared, in anesthetized, ventilated C57Bl/6 mice, the whole body distribution of small (40 kDa) dextrans (Texas Red labeled; Dex40) vs. that of intermediate (70 kDa) and large (500 kDa) dextrans (both FITC labeled; Dex70 and Dex500, respectively) using tracer dilution and vs. that of circulating plasma, as derived from the dilution of fluoresceinlabeled red blood cells and large-vessel hematocrit. The contribution of the glycocalyx was evaluated by intravenous infusion of a bolus of the enzyme hyaluronidase. In saline-treated control mice, distribution volume (in ml) differed between tracers (P < 0.05; ANOVA) in the following order: Dex40 (0.97 ± 0.04) > Dex70 (0.90 ± 0.04) > Dex500 (0.81 ± 0.10) > plasma (0.71 ± 0.02), resulting in an inaccessible vascular volume, i.e., compared with the distribution volume of Dex40, of 0.03 ± 0.01, 0.15 ± 0.04, and 0.31 ± 0.05 ml for Dex70, Dex500, and plasma, respectively. In hyaluronidasetreated mice, Dex70 and Dex40 volumes were not different from each other, and inaccessible vascular volumes for Dex500 (0.03 ± 0.03) and plasma (0.14 ± 0.05) were smaller (P < 0.05) than those in control animals. Clearance of Dex70 and Dex500 from the circulation was enhanced (P < 0.05) in hyaluronidase-treated vs. control mice. These results indicate that the glycocalyx contributes to sizedependent differences in whole body vascular distribution of plasma solutes in mice. Whole body vascular volume measurements based on the differential distribution of glycocalyx-selective tracers appear appropriate for the detection of generalized glycocalyx degradation in experimental animals and humans.
- Plasma volume