Rearrangement of the metaphyseal vasculature of the rat growth plate in rickets and rachitic reversal: A model of vascular arrest and angiogenesis renewed


  • William L. Hunter,

    1. Department of Anatomy, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia
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  • Dr. A. Larry Arsenault,

    Corresponding author
    1. Electron Microscopic Facility, Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario
    • Electron Microscopic Facility, Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University, 1200 Main Street West, Hamilton, Ontario L8N 3Z5, Canada
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  • Anthony B. Hodsman

    1. Department of Medicine, St. Joseph's Hospital, London, Ontario, Canada
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The morphology of the metaphyseal microvasculature at the epiphysis was examined at both the light and electron microscopic level in rickets and rachitic reversal. The animals studied were normal, rachitic, and rachitic reversed at 8, 24, and 96 hours post-vitamin D administration. The overall architecture of the metaphyseal vessels was significantly altered throughout the intervals examined. In the rachitic animal, arterioles, venules, and capillaries were found adjacent to the growth plate, either directly apposed to the hypertrophic chondrocytes or separated from them by bone-forming cells. These vessels are in many ways similar to the larger arterioles and venules that normally supply the metaphyseal capillary sprouts, but in the normal growing animal are usually located 350–500 μm from the epiphyseal cartilage. The rachitic capillaries appear relatively well differentiated with a partial basement membrane and a perivascular cell lining. In early rachitic reversal, small vascular projections are induced to grow from the large diameter venules that border upon the hypertrophic chondrocytes. These vascular sprouts that invade the epiphyseal cartilage are quite undifferentiated, with no basement membrane or pericyte lining at the sprout apex and occasional abluminal endothelial cell projections. Within 96 hours, the metaphyseal microvasculature has returned to an apparently normal state with only capillaries at the cartilage-vascular interface and larger vessels (arterioles and venules) located several hundred microns deeper into the metaphysis. The sequential processes of differentiation and cessation of capillary growth followed by dedifferentiation and reinitiation of microvascular growth make the rachitic system a unique one in which to study angiogenesis.