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Am J Physiol. 1982 Aug;243(2):H243-51.

Development of microvascular rarefaction in the spontaneously hypertensive rat.


Using stereological methods in vivo, we have investigated the rarefaction of arterioles and capillaries in male spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) and the Wistar-Kyoto controls (WKY) at 6-8, 12-14, and 16-18 wk of age. Under chloralose-urethan anesthesia, the gracilis muscle was isolated for microscopic observation. Vessel length and surface area per unit volume of tissue (density) were determined during three consecutive states: innervation, denervation, and vasodilation with nitroprusside. Arteriolar wall-to-lumen ratio was measured after vasodilation. At 6-8 wk capillary density was reduced in the SHR. At 12-14 wk there was a reduction of arteriole and capillary density under innervated and denervated conditions but not after vasodilation (a state of functional rarefaction). At 16-18 wk there was a reduction of arteriolar and capillary density under all three conditions (a state of anatomical rarefaction). At 12-14 and 16-18 wk there was an elevated level of arteriolar vasoconstriction in the SHR that was masked in any one state by the closure of the smaller arterioles. Arteriolar wall-to-lumen ratio was not elevated in the SHR at any time. Arteriolar closure was not reversed by acute denervation.

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