Normal adaptation of pulmonary arterial intima to extrauterine life in the pig: Ultrastructural studies
Adaptation of the pulmonary arterial intima was studied in injected lung specimens of 34 Large White pigs. Each type of pre- and intra-acinar artery was studied separately using transmission and scanning electron microscopy. Determination of the endothelial surface/volume ratio and volume densities of (1) endothelium and subendothelium. (2) endothelial cytoplasmic organelles and (3) subendothelial connective tissue elements yielded 6832 measurements which comprised a computerized database. At birth, endothelial cell morphology changed more rapidly and to a greater extent in peripheral than in proximal arteries. Endothelial surface/volume ratio increased (p < 0.0001). Fetal surface projections, junctional interdigitations and overlap became less evident. Adaptational changes were complete in three weeks. Between three weeks and adulthood a reduction in endothelial surface/volume ratio suggested cell growth. In the subendothelium the volume density of collagen and basement membrane and elastin increased (p<0.001). The internal elastic lamina, immature in all arteries at birth increased in thickness and integrity until in the adult, only in small muscular arteries did gaps between elastin profiles ensure frequent contact between endothelial and smooth muscle cells. At all ages regional differences in endothelial cell morphology were evident.
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