Effects of Ag+ on ion transport by the corneal epithelium of the rabbit

Stephen D. Klyce, William S. Marshall

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24 Scopus citations


Exposure of the in vitro rabbit corneal epithelium to Ag+ by the addition of AgNO3 (10-7-10-5)m) to the apical surface or by the use of imperfectly chlorided Ag/AgCl half-cells in Ussing-style membrane chambers, greatly increases short-circuit current and transepithelial potential. The early phase (the first 30 min) of the short-circuit current stimulation by Ag+ is linearly dependent on tear-side sodium concentration, is largely a result of a tenfold increase in net Na+ uptake and is incompletely inhibited by ouabain, suggesting that Ag+ increases cation (primarily Na+) conductance of the apical membrane. This mechanism for the Ag+ effect is supported by microelectrode experiments, wherein Ag+ depolarizes specifically the apical barrier potential and increases apical barrier conductance. A later phase in the effect (0.5-3 hr) is characterized by a gradual increase in36Cl- and14C-mannitol unidirectional fluxes, by a decline in epithelial resting potential and short-circuit current, by complete ouabain inhibition and by fit to saturation kinetics with respect to Na+ concentration in the bathing media. This pahse of the effect apparently reflects a nonselective opening of the paracellular pathway in the epithelium and is rate-limited by Na+ pump activity at the basolateral membrane. Both phases are associated with swelling of the corneal stroma and may be rapidly reversed using thiol agents (reduced glutathione and dithiothreitol). The results suggest that Ag+ may be useful in the study of cation transport by epithelia and the work provides basic physiological information that is pertinent to the prophylactic use of AgNO3 in clinical ophthalmology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-144
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Membrane Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1982
Externally publishedYes


  • cation transport
  • corneal epithelium
  • corneal hydration
  • epithelial transport
  • p-chloromercuriphenyl sulfonic acid
  • rabbit cornea
  • silver ion


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