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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2008 Feb;104(2):338-46. Epub 2007 Nov 15.

Intravital microscopy of the murine pulmonary microcirculation.

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Institute of Physiology, Charité, Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Campus Benjamin Franklin, Arnimallee 22, 14195 Berlin, Germany.


Intravital microscopy (IVM) is considered as the gold standard for in vivo investigations of dynamic microvascular regulation. The availability of transgenic and knockout animals has propelled the development of murine IVM models for various organs, but technical approaches to the pulmonary microcirculation are still scarce. In anesthetized and ventilated BALB/c mice, we established a microscopic access to the surface of the right upper lung lobe by surgical excision of a window of 7- to 10-mm diameter from the right thoracic wall. The window was covered by a transparent polyvinylidene membrane and sealed with alpha-cyanoacrylate. Removal of intrathoracic air via a trans-diaphragmal intrapleural catheter coupled the lung surface to the window membrane. IVM preparations were hemodynamically stable for at least 120 min, with mean arterial blood pressure above 70 mmHg, and mean arterial Po(2) and arterial Pco(2) in the range of 90-100 Torr and 30-40 Torr, respectively. Imaged lungs did not show any signs of acute lung injury or edema. Following infusion of FITC dextran, subpleural pulmonary arterioles and venules of up to 50-microm diameter and alveolar capillary networks could be visualized during successive expiratory plateau phases over a period of at least 2 h. Vasoconstrictive responses to hypoxia (11% O(2)) or infusion of the thromboxane analog U-46619 were prominent in medium-sized arterioles (30- to 50-microm diameter), minor in small arterioles <30 microm, and absent in venules. The presented IVM model may constitute a powerful new tool for investigations of pulmonary microvascular responses in mice.

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