Virchows Archiv A

, Volume 392, Issue 2, pp 199–216 | Cite as

Ultrastructure of the normal human aortic media

  • Koert P. Dingemans
  • Norien Jansen
  • Anton E. Becker
Original Articles


The ultrastructural organization of the adult human aortic media was studied utilizing aortic biopsies from 14 patients, ranging in age from 28 to 67, who underwent cardiac surgery. Apart from solid elastic elements the tissue spaces contained a vast amount of ill-defined thin streaks of elasin, an observation much facilitated by utilizing a selective elastin staining technique. In favorable sections, these streaks were found to be continuous with the solid elastic laminae. Furthermore, most medial smooth muscle cells were in close contact with the thin streaks, but almost none directly with the elastic laminae. The smooth muscle cells had also virtually no connection with collagen fibers. These observations are in contrast with the organization of elastin and with cell-to-stroma connections in the more extensively studied rodent and porcine aortas; they bring into question the role of the smooth muscle cells in the regulation of the viscoelastic properties of the human aortic wall. Other findings were: large number of nexuses connecting the smooth muscle cells, a very small degree of smooth muscle cell degeneration, and the presence of flocculent, fine-granular material investing all formed elements, but especially associated with the thin streaks of elastin.

Key words

Aortic media Human Ultrastructure Elastin Smooth muscle cell 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Koert P. Dingemans
    • 1
  • Norien Jansen
    • 1
  • Anton E. Becker
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PathologyUniversity of Amsterdam, Wilhelmina GasthuisEG AmsterdamThe Netherlands

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