Scanning Microscopy


Digested tissue specimens and corrosion casts of rat soleus and tibialis anterior muscles were employed for this Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) study. The shape, morphology, and position of pericytes were compared to corresponding imprints on the cast surfaces. Pericytes, observed in digested tissue specimens, showed a typical morphological pattern: a central body with two primary processes that run along the capillary in opposite directions. From these primary processes, secondary ones arise and often encircle the vessel almost completely.

On the surface of corrosion casts, roundish imprints were found in the microvascular tree at the same level where digested tissue specimens showed the presence of pericyte bodies. Along and around the cast surface, shallow grooves reproduced the course of the primary and secondary processes. The peculiar tridimensional arrangement of pericytes at the level of capillary bifurcations underlines their role in red cell flow regulation. However, if the mechanical linkage of the pericytes to the endothelium and their contractability is taken into account, additional roles of these perivascular cells may be hypothesized.

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