Blood flows within vessels throughout the body, carrying nutrients and metabolic end products to vital tissues. 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, in vitro. Isolated and cannulated vessels are mounted in specialized chambers, known as pressure myographs, permitting control of flow and pressure while simultaneously allowing for introduction of pharmacologic agents and 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.