Architecture of Small Arteries during Vasoconstriction
The cytoarchitectural changes which take place in the walls of small arteries (about 1 mm. O.D.) during vasoconstriction and vasodilation have been studied. Vessels were fixed while in their functional state by immersion in liquid isopentane at -170 C. and prepared for microscopic examination by freeze substitution.
The walls of control vessels were thin in relation to the diameter of lumina (WT:L 1:30), indicating that they are more distended than they appear in routinely fixed sections. Vessels dilated with ACH had even thinner walls (WT:L 1:40). Vasoconstriction, induced by local application of epinephrine, increased the wall thickness and reduced the size of the lumen (WT:L 1:2) but in no case was the lumen obliterated in arteries of this size.
Although an increase in the WT:L ratio is commonly employed as evidence of vascular hypertrophy, normal vessels which are fixed and sectioned while in a functional state of vasoconstriction may exhibit similar gross characteristics. Constricted vessels are characterized by progressive deformation of the internal elastic lamina, crowding of endothelial cells, and distortion of smooth muscle cells and their nuclei, particularly in the region immediately adjacent to the lumen. During intense vasoconstriction, the wall tension appears to be supported only by the outer layers of the vessel.
- Received October 25, 1961.
- © 1962 American Heart Association, Inc.