The effects of moderate and severe hypoxia on quantitative regional morphometric indexes of the total and perfused arteriolar and capillary network were studied in the rat brain to determine whether diffusion distances were reduced in hypoxia. Fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC)-labeled dextran was injected into the femoral vein of conscious control and hypoxic rats. After 20 s, the animal was decapitated and the head was frozen in liquid N2. Sections from eight brain regions were photographed to detect the perfused microvessels and then stained for alkaline phosphatase to visualize the total vascular network. There were significant increases in percent perfused arteriolar and capillary morphology between the two groups of hypoxic animals and control animals. In control rats, the percent of capillaries perfused averaged 45.6 +/- 0.6% (mean +/- SE). In moderate hypoxia 63.4 +/- 1.8% of the vessels were perfused and in severe hypoxia 89.4 +/- 0.1% were perfused. The percentage of arterioles perfused changed similarly. There were no significant differences in any index of total or percent perfused arteriolar or capillary morphometry among the regions within any group. During severe hypoxia, a greater percentage of the capillary reserves was utilized. These results demonstrate a uniform response to hypoxia in the capillary and arteriolar network of the conscious rat brain.
- Copyright © 1986 the American Physiological Society