Functional and morphological studies of protein transcytosis in continuous endothelia

Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2004 Nov;287(5):L895-901. doi: 10.1152/ajplung.00075.2004.


Continuous microvascular endothelium constitutively transfers protein from vessel lumen to interstitial space. Compelling recent biochemical, ultrastructural, and physiological evidence reviewed herein demonstrates that protein transport is not the result of barrier "leakiness" but, rather, is an active process occurring primarily in a transendothelial vesicular pathway. Protein accesses the vesicular pathway by means of caveolae open to the vessel lumen. Vascular tracer proteins appear in free cytoplasmic vesicles within minutes; contents of transport vesicles are rapidly deposited into the subendothelial matrix by exocytosis. Caveolin-1 deficiency eliminates caveolae and abolishes vesicular protein transport; interestingly, exchange vessels develop a compensatory transport mode through the opening of a paracellular permeability pathway. The evidence supports the transcytosis hypothesis and the concept that transcytosis is a fundamental component of transendothelial permeability of macromolecules.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Capillary Permeability / physiology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / ultrastructure
  • Humans
  • Lung / blood supply*
  • Lung / metabolism*
  • Proteins / metabolism


  • Proteins