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Stéphane Fouquet, Ophélie Vacca, Florian Sennlaub, Michel Paques; The 3D Retinal Capillary Circulation in Pigs Reveals a Predominant Serial Organization. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2017;58(13):5754-5763. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.17-22097.
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To establish a model of the retinal capillary circulation in pigs, which in many aspects is close to the human retina.
Using high density confocal microscopy image stacks of immunolabeled porcine retinal whole mounts, microvessels close to the optic nerve head were traced in three dimensions. The direction of flow of individual capillaries was deduced from their arteriolar and/or venous connections.
From major arteries, second-order arteries traversed the nerve fiber layer and resolved exclusively into the superficial vascular plexus (SVP), which dichotomized the blood flow between radial peripapillary capillaries (RPCs) on one side and the intermediate (IVP) and deep vascular plexus (DVP) on the other. Each RPC was supplied by one or several capillaries from the SVP and drained to the IVP or DVP. The DVP was a mosaic of approximately 300 to 600 μm wide anastomotic watersheds, each drained by one or two venules connected to major veins. A presumptive direction of flow could be determined for >90% of capillaries. These results suggest a model of the capillary circulation in which the three microvessel layers are serially organized with RPCs are in parallel between the SVP and IVP or DVP.
In the peripapillary retina of pigs, microvascular layers have a serial arrangement, with RPCs emerging from the SVP and draining to the IVP or DVP; hence, connected in parallel of this scheme. The bulk of flow, therefore, traverses the SVP and DVP successively. This organization contributes to the higher oxygen saturation in the SVP and RPCs than in the DVP. Physiopathologic implications of this model regarding retinal diseases are discussed.
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