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Keywords:

  • blood vessels;
  • choroid;
  • corrosion cast;
  • scanning electron microscopy

Abstract

This study presents the details of the microvasculature of the rat choroid visualized by scanning electron microscopy of vascular corrosion casts. Wistar Kyoto rats were anesthetized with intraperitoneal sodium pentobarbital. The vascular system was perfused with heparinized saline, and Mercox resin was injected into the cannulated carotid arteries. After polymerization of the resin, the vascular casts were macerated with potassium hydroxide, washed with water, and freeze dried. The casts were examined with a Hitachi S-2360N scanning electron microscope (SEM). Corrosion casts of the entire choroidal vasculature revealed that the two long posterior ciliary arteries supplied the entire uveal vasculature. In the posterior choroid, these arteries formed five to seven branches on each side supplying the adjacent choriocapillaris. No interarterial or arteriovenous anastomoses were seen. The choriocapillaris appeared as a nonhomogeneous and nonlobular monolayer capillary network, consisting of dense honeycomb and irregular patterns. There are two distinct venous systems in the rat choroid. The venous blood from the central region, peripapillary choroid, and sometimes the optic nerve head drain into the posterior ciliary vein. The venous blood from the iris, ciliary body, anterior choroid, and half of the posterior choroid drain into the vortex veins. Corrosion casts and the SEM have shown details of the choroidal vascular architecture. These three-dimensional observations indicate that the rat choroidal vasculature has different features from those of humans and other primates. Despite these interspecies differences, the establishment of a thorough baseline concept of choroidal vasculature should permit additional studies of the choroidal pathology and enable the proper interpretation of results from rat experimental models for extrapolation to humans. Anat Rec 264:63–71, 2001. © 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.