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Occurrence of a terminal vascularisation after experimental myocardial infarction

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Physiological data indicate a residual vascularisation within ischemic myocardial regions where necrosis of most cells have been reported to occur after myocardial infarction. We therefore studied, by means of immunohistochemistry, computer-assisted morphometry, and electron microscopy, the terminal vascularisation in correlation to cardiomyocytes in ten canine hearts 1 and 3 weeks after occlusion of the left anterior descending (LAD) coronary artery. In comparison to non-infarcted myocardium we found the following alterations in infarcted myocardium: (1) the area density of cardiomyocytes decreased from 98% (control) to 7.9% (1 week after occlusion) and to 2.7% (3 weeks after occlusion); (2) the number of capillaries was diminished to 11.6% and to 2.6%; respectively; (3) smooth muscle α-actin was induced in endothelial (EC) cells of the microvessels; and (4) terminal resistance vessels increased 11-fold and 20-fold in number, respectively. Our findings confirm the necrosis of the vast majority of cardiomyocytes and capillaries within the first 3 weeks after myocardial infarction. Besides a small number of capillaries, many terminal resistance vessels, however, seem to persist in the scarring infarcted tissue. The occurrence of these microvessels is supposed to be important for the granulation tissue as well as for the control and regulation of a residual blood supply during scar formation.

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Received: 12 August 1996 / Accepted: 24 June 1997

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Kramer, M., Kinscherf, R., Aidonidis, I. et al. Occurrence of a terminal vascularisation after experimental myocardial infarction. Cell Tissue Res 291, 97–105 (1997).

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  • Key words Coronary microvasculature
  • Scar formation
  • Myocardial infarction
  • Dog