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Functional anatomy and hemodynamic characteristics of vasa vasorum in the walls of porcine coronary arteries.

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  • 1Physiological Imaging Research Laboratory, Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota 55905, USA.


In this study vasa vasorum in the walls of porcine coronary arteries were examined, using three-dimensional (3D) micro-CT scanning techniques. These techniques leave the 3D structure of the vasa vasorum tree intact and thus provide a much more direct view of this structure than is possible from conventional histological sections. The study demonstrates-for the first time, we believe-both the different types and the fine architecture of these vasa vasorum. Furthermore, with the use of automated tree analysis software, it was possible to obtain quantitative geometrical data on the 3D structure of vasa vasorum trees that have not previously been available. The results indicate that despite the restrictive topology of the space in which they are present, the branching architecture of the vasa vasorum trees, which we surveyed, is surprisingly similar to that of vasculature in general. The volume of vessel wall tissue perfused or drained by a vasa vasorum tree was found to correlate well with the cross-sectional area of the root segment of the vasa vasorum tree, and the luminal surface area corresponding to this volume was found to be comparable with the surface area of an early atherosclerotic lesion. This is consistent with earlier findings that the ligation or removal of vasa vasorum leads to atherogenesis.

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