An ex vivo method for time-lapse imaging of cultured rat mesenteric microvascular networks

Mohammad S. Azimi, Jessica M. Motherwell, Walter L. Murfee*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Angiogenesis, defined as the growth of new blood vessels from pre-existing vessels, involves endothelial cells, pericytes, smooth muscle cells, immune cells, and the coordination with lymphatic vessels and nerves. The multi-cell, multi-system interactions necessitate the investigation of angiogenesis in a physiologically relevant environment. Thus, while the use of in vitro cell-culture models have provided mechanistic insights, a common critique is that they do not recapitulate the complexity associated with a microvascular network. The objective of this protocol is to demonstrate the ability to make time-lapse comparisons of intact microvascular networks before and after angiogenesis stimulation in cultured rat mesentery tissues. Cultured tissues contain microvascular networks that maintain their hierarchy. Immunohistochemical labeling confirms the presence of endothelial cells, smooth muscle cells, pericytes, blood vessels and lymphatic vessels. In addition, labeling tissues with BSI-lectin enables time-lapse comparison of local network regions before and after serum or growth factor stimulation characterized by increased capillary sprouting and vessel density. In comparison to common cell culture models, this method provides a tool for endothelial cell lineage studies and tissue specific angiogenic drug evaluation in physiologically relevant microvascular networks.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere55183
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number120
StatePublished - 9 Feb 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Angiogenesis
  • Developmental Biology
  • Endothelial cell
  • Issue 120
  • Microcirculation
  • Microvascular network
  • Pericyte
  • Time lapse


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