Transepithelial resistance (TER) measurement has often been used to study the paracellular transport properties of epithelia grown on permeable filters, especially the barrier function of tight junctions. However, the TER value includes another source, the resistance caused by cell-substrate contact, that may give rise to a high TER value if cell-substrate separation is small. In this study we use electric cell-substrate impedance sensing (ECIS) to measure both paracellular resistance and the average cell-substrate distance of MDCK (II), HEp-2, and WI-38 VA13 cells. Comparing ECIS data with those from TER measurements of cell layers cultured on polycarbonate filters, we can obtain the approximate extra resistance resulting from cell-substrate contact for each cell type. The value of cell-substrate resistance was also estimated by two theoretical calculations that bracket the true values. Our results demonstrate that cell-substrate contact substantially influences the TER data measured using polycarbonate filters and that the extra resistance due to cell-substrate spaces depends on both cell type and filter property.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.