A guide to Ussing chamber studies of mouse intestine

Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2009 Jun;296(6):G1151-66. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.90649.2008. Epub 2009 Apr 2.


The Ussing chamber provides a physiological system to measure the transport of ions, nutrients, and drugs across various epithelial tissues. One of the most studied epithelia is the intestine, which has provided several landmark discoveries regarding the mechanisms of ion transport processes. Adaptation of this method to mouse intestine adds the dimension of investigating genetic loss or gain of function as a means to identify proteins or processes affecting transepithelial transport. In this review, the principles underlying the use of Ussing chambers are outlined including limitations and advantages of the technique. With an emphasis on mouse intestinal preparations, the review covers chamber design, commercial equipment sources, tissue preparation, step-by-step instruction for operation, troubleshooting, and examples of interpretation difficulties. Specialized uses of the Ussing chamber such as the pH stat technique to measure transepithelial bicarbonate secretion and isotopic flux methods to measure net secretion or absorption of substrates are discussed in detail, and examples are given for the adaptation of Ussing chamber principles to other measurement systems. The purpose of the review is to provide a practical guide for investigators who are new to the Ussing chamber method.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport / physiology
  • Colon / physiology
  • Duodenum / physiology
  • Intestinal Absorption / physiology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / physiology
  • Intestines / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Organ Culture Techniques / instrumentation*
  • Organ Culture Techniques / methods*