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J Histochem Cytochem. 2012 Feb;60(2):97-109. doi: 10.1369/0022155411433066. Epub 2011 Dec 1.

Three-dimensional microstructural changes in murine abdominal aortic aneurysms quantified using immunofluorescent array tomography.

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Department of Bioengineering, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305, USA.


This study investigated the spatial and temporal remodeling of blood vessel wall microarchitecture and cellular morphology during abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) development using immunofluorescent array tomography (IAT), a high-resolution three-dimensional (3D) microscopy technology, in the murine model. Infrarenal aortas of C57BL6 mice (N=20) were evaluated at 0, 7, and 28 days after elastase or heat-inactivated elastase perfusion. Custom algorithms quantified volume fractions (VF) of elastin, smooth muscle cell (SMC) actin, and adventitial collagen type I, as well as elastin thickness, elastin fragmentation, non-adventitial wall thickness, and nuclei amount. The 3D renderings depicted elastin and collagen type I degradation and SMC morphological changes. Elastin VF decreased 37.5% (p<0.01), thickness decreased 48.9%, and fragmentation increased 449.7% (p<0.001) over 28 days. SMC actin VF decreased 78.3% (p<0.001) from days 0 to 7 and increased 139.7% (p<0.05) from days 7 to 28. Non-adventitial wall thickness increased 61.1%, medial nuclei amount increased 159.1% (p<0.01), and adventitial collagen type I VF decreased 64.1% (p<0.001) over 28 days. IAT and custom image analysis algorithms have enabled robust quantification of vessel wall content, microstructure, and organization to help elucidate the dynamics of vascular remodeling during AAA development.

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