, Volume 178, Issue 4, pp 495-515

Ultrastructure of arterioles in the cat brain

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Summary

A total of 110 arterioles were examined in the brains of cats; different sites were studied including the cortex, putamen, pons and crus cerebri. No internal elastic laminae were seen in the subendothelial space, although occasional fragments of elastic material were present in the larger arterioles. The media was composed of one, two or three layers of smooth muscle cells which interlocked in such a way that the vessel wall thickness was constant. Numerous tight junctions were seen between adjacent smooth muscle cells and between the endothelium and smooth muscle cells. Apart from the usual cell organelles, the smooth muscle cells of arterioles had numerous dense patches on the cell surface. The structure of the adventitia varied according to the diameter of the vessel and the site in the brain; it contained adventitial cells, bundles of collagen fibres and nerve fibres. Innervation of arterioles was more constant in the brain stem than in the cortex. Metarterioles had less specialised, atypical smooth muscle cells, a discontinuous media and numerous, extensive myoendothelial tight junctions; they were not innervated by nerve fibres. The diameter of metarterioles was less than 10 μm whereas that of arterioles was 10–45 μm. The possible functional aspects of arteriolar innervation are discussed.