Scanning Microscopy


Blood capillaries have been isolated from various tissue sources yielding suspensions of capillary segments. These have provided opportunities to study the cellular properties of capillary endothelium under conditions uncomplicated by the presence of stromal tissues and in which measured parameters can be attributed to endothelial cells. Fresh capillary isolates have been used directly as experimental systems but the yield of endothelium is quite low. Amplification of endothelial biomass has been accomplished by using freshly isolated capillaries as explants for primary tissue culture. It has not been previously possible, however, to obtain large amounts of capillary endothelium from a single preparation nor have different capillary types been isolated from the same tissue. The rete mirabile of the eel swim bladder is a copious source of capillaries of two types: thick-walled, continuous capillaries heavily invested with pericytes and thin-walled, fenestrated capillaries. These can be isolated in large numbers free of large blood vessels and contaminating stromal tissue. The two types of capillaries can be isolated from each other by perfusing magnetic beads into one type prior to isolation and separating them from the other type in a magnetic field. This provides a system in which the cellular properties of the two types of endothelium can be studied in vitro and, due to a common isolation procedure, direct comparisons can be made.

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