Pflügers Archiv

, Volume 375, Issue 2, pp 153–159 | Cite as

Structural differences in the mesentery microcirculation between normotensive and spontaneously hypertensive rats

  • H. Henrich
  • R. Hertel
  • R. Assmann
Heart, Circulation, Respiration and Blood; Environmental and Exercise Physiology


The mesentery preparation of normotensive rats (NR) (Pcarotis97±4 mm Hg) and of spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) (161±2 mm Hg) of comparable age (20±3 weeks) was used to study morphological changes of the microvasculature in established hypertension. The arterioles, classified according to their branching order, had an increased inner diameter in SHR (by 20%). The smooth muscle hypertrophy decreased with smaller vessel size. Pre- and postcapillary vessels were shorter in SHR than in NR by 17 to 35%. The number of these vessels related to the number of the feeding terminal arterioles was found to be reduced by nearly 50% in SHR. The data suggest a lowered arteriolar flow resistance in individual vessels of the hypertensive group concomitant with a gradually disappearing smooth muscle hypertrophy towards the capillary bed. The elevation of the resistance to blood flow in the hypertensive rats is obviously caused by a reduced number of resistance vessels, as seen in the mesentery vascular bed.

Similar results were obtained in the true capillaries, which showed greater inner diameters (SHR vs NR: 7.2 μm vs 6.4 μm), shortened lengths (141 vs 170 μm) and a reduced number (50 bs 70). Red cell velocity in true capillaries did not differ (0.51 mm/s vs 0.49 mm/s). Arterio-venous shunt vessels were described with an average inner diameter of 11 μm. In SHR these vessels were shorter (424 vs 654 μm) and increased in number. The ‘hydraulic hindranc“ of AV-shunt vessels and true capillaries together was decreased in SHR; the surface area did not differ between SHR (55.7 · 103 μm2) and NR (50.1 · 103 μm2) suggesting no major variation in the exchange functions.

Key words

Essential hypertension Arteriolar dimensions Capillary density Hydraulic hindrance Surface area Capillary red cell velocity 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. Henrich
    • 1
  • R. Hertel
    • 1
  • R. Assmann
    • 1
  1. 1.Physiologisches Institut der Universität WürzburgWürzburgGermany

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