Studies on the cell biology of interendothelial cell gaps

Cristhiaan D. Ochoa, Troy Stevens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Pain, redness, heat, and swelling are hallmarks of inflammation that were recognized as early as the first century AD. Despite these early observations, the mechanisms responsible for swelling, in particular, remained an enigma for nearly two millennia. Only in the past century have scientists and physicians gained an appreciation for the role that vascular endothelium plays in controlling the exudation that is responsible for swelling. One of these mechanisms is the formation of transient gaps between adjacent endothelial cell borders. Inflammatory mediators act on endothelium to reorganize the cytoskeleton, decrease the strength of proteins that connect cells together, and induce transient gaps between endothelial cells. These gaps form a paracellular route responsible for exudation. The discovery that interendothelial cell gaps are causally linked to exudation began in the 1960s and was accompanied by significant controversy. Today, the role of gap formation in tissue edema is accepted by many, and significant scientific effort is dedicated toward developing therapeutic strategies that will prevent or reverse the endothelial cell gaps that are present during the course of inflammatory illness. Given the importance of this field in endothelial cell biology and inflammatory disease, this focused review catalogs key historical advances that contributed to our modern-day understanding of the cell biology of interendothelial gap formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L275-L286
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Endothelium
  • Inflammation
  • Junctions
  • Permeability
  • Transport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cell Biology


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