Ovine middle cerebral artery characterization and quantification of ultrastructure and other features: Changes with development

Ravi Goyal, David A. Henderson, Nina Chu, Lawrence D. Longo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Regulation of tone, blood pressure, and blood flow in the cerebral vasculature is of vital importance, particularly in the developing infant. We tested the hypothesis that, in addition to accretion of smooth muscle cells (SMCs) in cell layers with vessel thickening, significant changes in smooth muscle structure, as well as phenotype, extracellular matrix, and membrane proteins, in the media of cerebral arteries (CAs) during the course of late fetal development account for associated changes in contractility. Using transmission electron, confocal, wide-field epifluorescence, and light microscopy, we examined the structure and ultrastructure of CAs. Also, we utilized wire myography, Western immunoblotting, and real-time quantitative PCR to examine several other features of these arteries. We compared the main branch ovine middle CAs of 95- and 140-gestational day (GD) fetuses with those of adults (n = 5 for each experimental group). We observed a graded increase in phenylephrine- and KCl-induced contractile responses with development. Structurally, lumen diameter, media thickness, and media cross-sectional area increased dramatically from one age group to the next. With maturation, the cross-sectional profiles of CA SMCs changed from flattened bands in the 95-GD fetus to irregular ovoidshaped fascicles in the 140-GD fetus and adult. We also observed a change in the type of collagen, specific integrin molecules, and several other parameters of SMC morphology with maturation. Ovine CAs at 95 GD appeared morphologically immature and poorly equipped to respond to major hemodynamic adjustments with maturation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R433-R445
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Fascicle
  • Fetus
  • Vascular smooth muscle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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