- Volume efflux from descending vasa recta (DVR) of hydropenic rats occurs despite a higher oncotic pressure than hydraulic pressure. To explain this, we previously proposed that transcapillary small-solute gradients exert an additional driving force for volume efflux. This hypothesis was tested by micropuncture of DVR at the base and tip of the exposed renal papilla of control hydropenic and furosemide-treated rats. The DVR plasma osmolality at the base, 573 +/- 40, rose to 1,011 +/- 118 mosmol/kg H2O at the tip in control animals but was 356 +/- 8 and 377 +/- 6, respectively in furosemide animals, demonstrating that the axial osmotic gradient was nearly eliminated. The DVR plasma protein concentration in control hydropenic rats was higher at the tip, 6.8 +/- 0.4 g/dl, than at the base, 5.2 g/dl (P less than 0.01), because of volume efflux from DVR between base and tip, but was 5.4 +/- 0.3 and 5.5 +/- 0.2 g/dl at the base and tip, respectively, in furosemide animals, indicating virtual abolition of volume efflux. In DVR at the tip in control animals, plasma protein concentration positively correlated with plasma osmolality (R = 0.72, P less than 0.02). These results support the hypothesis that transcapillary small-solute gradients influence transcapillary fluid movement in DVR.