The present study details a new method for the exposure and viewing of individual microvessels located within the small intestine of rats. This procedure will selectively and consistently remove the outer muscle layers and underlying submucosa of the intestinal wall and thereby expose a variety of arterioles in their normal location within the tissue, with their normal relationship to each other undisturbed. The small intestine of the rat was initially fixed by vascular perfusion with 2.5% glutaraldehyde in 0.1 M cacodylate/HCl buffer, reinfused with heparinized whole blood, removed from the animal, and secured to a dissecting petri dish for further fixation. Subsequently, the external muscularis was dissected from the sample which exposed the submucosa. In order to remove the connective tissue elements from this layer and uncover the submucosal vasculature, the samples were first transferred to a solution of 30% potassium hydroxide for 2-5 minutes and then to a final digesting solution containing collagenase. Thereafter, the samples were routinely processed for light microscopy and for scanning (SEM) or transmission (TEM) electron microscopy. Examination of the samples revealed excellent preservation of the three-dimensional organization of the arteriolar wall with minimal membrane damage. This new technique now makes it possible to visualize the shape and position of individual smooth muscle cells along arterioles of differing size and branching order.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)