Fluorescent microangiography (FMA): an improved tool to visualize the pulmonary microvasculature
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Visualization of the complex lung microvasculature and resolution of its three-dimensional architecture remains a difficult experimental challenge. We present a novel fluorescent microscopy technique to visualize both the normal and diseased pulmonary microvasculature. Physiologically relevant pulmonary perfusion conditions were applied using a low-viscosity perfusate infused under continuous airway ventilation. Intensely fluorescent polystyrene microspheres, confined to the vascular space, were imaged through confocal optical sectioning of 200 microm-thick lung sections. We applied this technique to rat lungs and the markedly enhanced depth of field in projected images allowed us to follow vascular branching patterns in both normal lungs and lungs from animals with experimentally induced pulmonary arterial hypertension. In addition, this method allowed complementary immunostaining and identification of cellular components surrounding the blood vessels. Fluorescent microangiography is a widely applicable and quantitative tool for the study of vascular changes in animal models of pulmonary disease.
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