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Keywords:

  • morphology;
  • confocal imaging;
  • arterioles;
  • endothelium;
  • vascular smooth muscles

Abstract

Confocal imaging of Fluo-4, Propidium iodide, and di-8-Anepps loaded ureter were used to study the morphology of terminal arterioles with an inner diameter <50 μm in intact rat ureter. Optical sectioning showed that the muscle coat of the terminal arterioles consisted of a monolayer of highly curved smooth muscle cells which run circumferentially around the endothelium. This technique allowed not only to measure the inner diameter of the terminal arterioles but also to define the orientation and number of revolutions an individual smooth muscle cell made around the endothelium. We measured thickness, width, length, and morphological profile of the myocytes and endothelial cells. Propidium iodide staining showed nuclei of individual cells by continuous imaging at high resolution in serial optical sections. Conventional haematoxylin-eosin, Masson's tri-chrome staining, and transmission electron microscopy were also used in this study to compare the measurements obtained from live confocal imaging with histological standard methods. Parameters obtained from live imaging were significantly different. This technique of live staining allowed measuring the cellular and nuclear dimensions of the terminal arterioles in their natural environment which are important in studying the effects of vascular disease or aging on vascular structure. J. Morphol. 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.