Cell and wall morphology of intestinal arterioles from 4- to 6- and 17- to 19-week-old Wistar-Kyoto and spontaneously hypertensive rats

Bryan G. Miller, Bret A. Connors, H. Glenn Bohlen, Andrew P. Evan

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To determine whether vascular smooth muscle cells around intestinal arterioles of various sizes undergo comparable changes in spontaneously hypertensive rats, 4- to 6-week-old (n = 10) and 17- to 19-week-old (n = 10) rats from the Wistar-Kyoto and the spontaneously hypertensive strains were used to study the external morphology of vascular smooth muscle cells by scanning electron microscopy and the vessel wall cross-sectional characteristics by light microscopy. At the time of fixation all vascular tone had been abolished. Scanning electron microscopy analysis revealed that all Wistar-Kyoto and spontaneously hypertensive rats at a given age have spindle-shaped vascular smooth muscle cells of comparable length and longitudinal width for a given branching order of arterioles. However, normal maturation is associated with elongation and widening of the vascular smooth muscle cells. Light and scanning electron microscopy indicated that a monolayer of vascular smooth muscle cells, wrapped at almost 0 degrees to the vessel's radial axis, is maintained in adult spontaneously hypertensive rats. The radial thickness of this vascular smooth muscle cell monolayer was significantly (p<0.025) increased for only the largest arterioles of young and adult spontaneously hypertensive rats. This radial thickening of individual vascular smooth muscle cells increased the muscular component of the wall area for the largest arterioles by about 50% In adult spontaneously hypertensive rats. Other smaller submucosal arterioles of young and adult spontaneously hypertensive rats had normal vessel wall and vascular smooth muscle cell characteristics. These data indicate that hypertrophy in the smooth muscle cell's radial dimension is the primary morphological change in intestinal arterioles of spontaneously hypertensive rats. However, the vascular smooth muscle cell hypertrophy is confined to the largest arterioles such that the remaining smaller arteriolar vessels in the spontaneously hypertensive rat retain a normal smooth muscle cell and overall wall morphology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-68
Number of pages10
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1987



  • Arterioles
  • Hypertension
  • Intestine
  • Spontaneously hypertensive rats
  • Vascular smooth muscle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine

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