Scanning Microscopy


The fine structure of vascular smooth muscle cells from large mesenteric arteries of adult (28 weeks) spontaneously hypertensive rats and Wistar-Kyoto rats was studied using scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The effect of the digestion method for SEM on tissue size and smooth muscle cell size was also studied using morphometric analysis. A significant reduction in cell size (42-43%) was present after critical point drying, based on the reduction in volume to surface ratio of smooth muscle cells. However, percent change of volume density and volume to surface ratio of smooth muscle cells after digestion and after critical point drying, was similar between the hypertensives and normotensives. Most of the tissue shrinkage occurred during the digestion process to remove the connective tissue. Overall tissue shrinkage due to the digestion method involving OsO4/HCl and subsequent processing for SEM, based on changes in the thickness of the medial wall, was similar between arteries from hypertensive (34.7%) and normotensive (31.4%). After compensating for the shrinkage, vascular smooth muscle cells from hypertensive animals were found to have a wider soma! region (5.94 μm) than those from the normotensives (5.46 μm), suggesting cellular hypertrophy. We conclude that a significant reduction in size of tissue and smooth muscle cells took place when arteries were processed for SEM. For comparative study of vascular changes in hypertension involving SEM, cellular shrinkage due to processing should be included in the calculations in order to provide a reasonable estimate of the alterations.

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