Permeability characteristics of human jejunum, ileum, proximal colon and distal colon: results of potential difference measurements and unidirectional fluxes

Gastroenterology. 1982 Oct;83(4):844-50.


In order to assess the passive permeability characteristics of the human intestine in vivo, we measured potential difference in the jejunum, ileum, proximal colon, and distal colon during perfusion of various test solutions that were designed to establish chemical gradients for sodium or chloride, or both or neither. In addition, unidirectional fluxes of sodium and chloride were measured in 30-cm segments of the jejunum and ileum and entire colon during perfusion of balanced electrolyte solution. These studies indicate that there are marked differences in the pathways for passive ion movement in the areas of the intestine studied. In the jejunum, this pathway appears to be highly permeable to both sodium and chloride with modest cation selectivity. In the ileum this pathway is much more cation selective, predominantly because of a relative impermeability to chloride. In the colon, on the other hand, these passive pathways appear to be more anion than cation selective. The implication of these results for normal transport physiology are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Chlorides / physiology*
  • Colon / physiology
  • Electrophysiology
  • Humans
  • Ileum / physiology
  • Intestines / physiology*
  • Jejunum / physiology
  • Mannitol / metabolism
  • Permeability
  • Sodium / physiology*
  • Sodium Chloride / metabolism


  • Chlorides
  • Mannitol
  • Sodium Chloride
  • Sodium