Use of Ussing Chambers to Measure Paracellular Permeability to Macromolecules in Mouse Intestine

Methods Mol Biol. 2021;2367:1-11. doi: 10.1007/7651_2021_367.


An increased intestinal permeability has been described in many diseases including inflammatory bowel disease and metabolic disorders, and a better understanding of the contribution of intestinal barrier impairment to pathogenesis is needed. In recent years, attention has been paid to the leak pathway, which is the route of paracellular transport allowing the diffusion of macromolecules through the tight junctions of the intestinal epithelial lining. While the passage of macromolecules by this pathway is very restricted under physiological conditions, its amplification is thought to promote an excessive immune activation in the intestinal mucosa. The Ussing chambers have been widely used to measure both active and passive transepithelial fluxes in intact tissues. In this chapter we present how this simple device can be used to measure paracellular permeability to macromolecules in the mouse intestine. We propose a detailed protocol and describe how to best exploit all the possibilities of this technique, correctly interpret the results, and avoid the main pitfalls.

Keywords: FITC-dextran; Intestinal permeability; Leak pathway; Mouse intestine; Ussing chambers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Colitis
  • Intestinal Mucosa
  • Intestines*
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Mice
  • Permeability
  • Tight Junctions


  • Macromolecular Substances