Perivascular structures in corrosion casts of the human central nervous system: A confocal laser and scanning electron microscope study

Alfonso Rodriguez-Baeza, Francisco Reina-De La Torre, Marisa Ortega-Sanchez, Joan Sahuquillo-Barris

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51 Citations (Scopus)


Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) of microvascular corrosion casts revealed perivascular structures that resembled smooth muscle and pericyte cells. Although these structures have been studied in widely different experimental contexts, their origin, function, and distribution pattern in different tissues are not understood. Microvascular corrosion casts from 15 fresh human brains and 20 lumbar spinal cords were studied by SEM. In five cerebral hemispheres a fluorescent resin was injected in order to study the vascular bed by confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM). Microvascular casts showed two perivascular structures on their surfaces: plastic strips, which formed a muff around arteriolar vessels, and pericyte-like structures that were present around the capillary network. Their morphological characteristics and distribution were similar to those of smooth muscle cells and pericytes, respectively. The SEM study showed that these structures were not tightly joined to the cast surface, but were connected to the vascular cast by narrow plastic connections. The CLSM showed that the resin invaded the subendothelial space, thus giving rise to these structures. Perivascular structures associated with arteriolar and capillary vessels appear to represent smooth muscle cells and pericytes. They are formed by the passage of the resin to the subendothelial space, probably through weak endothelial cell junctions. The effusion of resin into the subendothelial space may represent evidence for the structural basis of myocyte and pericyte cell control. Chemical communication by substances released locally or transported to these cells through these junctions may regulate their functions, allowing them to regulate blood flow.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)176-184
JournalAnatomical Record
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 1998


  • Cerebral cortex
  • Confocal laser microscopy
  • Human anatomy
  • Lumbar spinal cord
  • Microvascular corrosion casts
  • Perivascular structures
  • Scanning electron microscopy


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