Blood flows throughout the body in blood vessels, carrying nutrients and metabolic end products to vital tissue. Precise control of blood pressure and flow is critically important to vascular function. Vasodilation (the relaxation of smooth muscle within vessel walls leading to vessel dilation, reduced blood flow and decreased blood pressure) and vasoconstriction (the constriction and narrowing of blood vessels) are tightly regulated processes that control the body’s response to tissue demands. Vascular dysregulation and dysfunction contribute to wide ranging pathologies affecting numerous tissue types.
Pressurized blood vessels serve as an excellent model system for the study of vascular function. Isolated and cannulated vessels are mounted in specialized chambers, known as pressure myographs, that allow for the control of flow and/or pressure, while simultaneously permitting introduction of pharmacologic agents and other vasoactive compounds. These chambers typically have glass bottomed baths which can be interrogated by light and fluorescence microscopy. IonOptix manufactures data acquisition systems that utilize both contrast-based dimensioning and fluorescence techniques to provide a full suite of functional data characterizing vessel performance.
Our Vessel Diameter system combines high resolution brightfield imaging with an application-specific edge detection algorithm, to giving investigators the ability to dynamically track and record outer and luminal diameters as well as cross-sectional area, wall thickness and media-lumen ratio. This system can be combined with our flow meter and flow characterization software to investigate the effects of mechanical shear stress on arterial walls in real time. Our complete Calcium, Diameter, and Flow System allows users to take advantage of a number of readily available indicator dyes to study intracellular calcium, ROS, NO, etc. Our systems can even be combined with spinning disk confocal for simultaneous imaging of expressed fluoroproteins.