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Arch Histol Cytol. 2002 Oct;65(4):347-57.

Three-dimensional cytoarchitecture of angiogenic blood vessels in a gelatin sheet implanted in the rat skeletal muscular layers.

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Division of Microscopic Anatomy and Bio-imaging, Department of Cellular Function, Niigata University Graduate School of Medical and Dental Sciences, Niigata, Japan.


To demonstrate the structure of angiogenic blood vessels three-dimensionally, a gelatin sponge sheet immersed in a vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) solution was implanted in the rat dorsal muscular layer, and examined by light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) 5 days to 2 weeks after implantation. Light microscopy of anti-collagen IV antibody immunostained specimens enabled a determination of the basement membrane tube of newly formed blood vessels in the implanted sponge sheet. The tubes were 5-40 microm in diameter, and sometimes tapered to a slender cord within the vascular network. The SEM study of 30% KOH treated tissues revealed two types of tapering ends of newly formed blood vessels. One consisted of endothelial cells with microprojections, and lacked any investment of pericytes over the length of 5-20 microm. The other type was a tapering tip of the endothelial tube covered with pericytic processes. The presence of long processes of pericytes extending beyond the tip of the endothelial tube and connecting to the adjacent vessel wall indicates that this type was produced by endothelial tube regression. Thus, the present study supports the ideas that endothelial tube formation is followed by pericyte coverage at the sprouting tip, and that endothelial tube regression precedes pericyte detachment at the regressing site.

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