In vivo microscopic observations of pulmonary capillaries are limited to subpleural networks that are less dense than interior networks. In addition to the density difference, subpleural and interior capillary diameters may differ, although there are conflicting data on this point. We measured the diameters of subpleural and interior capillaries in rats and dogs. Subpleural diameters were 30% larger in rats and 20% larger in dogs. Because diameter and density differences might cause differences in recruitment between subpleural and interior networks, we measured subpleural and interior recruitment by counting the number of red blood cells per 10 μm of alveolar wall in histological cross sections of rapidly frozen rat lungs. Lung inflation pressures of 4, 12, and 25 cmH2O created a wide range of capillary recruitment in different groups of animals. Red blood cell counts for interior and subpleural capillaries moved in parallel and progressively increased as inflation pressures were reduced. These data demonstrate that recruitment in subpleural capillaries accurately reflect recruitment in interior capillaries and validate the use of in vivo microscopic observations of subpleural capillaries to investigate pulmonary capillary recruitment in general.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physiology (medical)