Scanning Microscopy


Lungs and systemic vessels of rats were cast with Mercox, both undiluted and diluted with monomeric methylmethycrylate (MMA; v:v/4:1), and studied by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). A sheet, less than 5 μm thick, surrounded the surface of cast pulmonary arteries and the aorta, when using diluted Mercox. This envelope was absent when casts were prepared with undiluted Mercox. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) of unmacerated cast arteries showed all constituents of the vascular wall. Sections of thoroughly macerated vascular casts, however, still showed elastic lamellae in the vascular wall region, whereas muscular components and endothelial lining were completely digested. It is suggested that dilution of Mercox with MMA leads to phase separation during polymerization. An unidentified compound is released which penetrates the vascular wall, and makes preferentially the elastic lamellae resistant against tissue digestion. This assumption is supported by occurrence of such covering sheaths exclusively around elastic arteries.

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