Growth-related micromorphological characteristics of the porcine common carotid artery
The purpose of this study was to gain knowledge about the micromorphology of the porcine common carotid artery (CCA) during the period of growth over the bodyweight range of 10-40 kg. CCA samples from German landrace pigs (DL) aged either 2 or 3 months (DL-2 and DL-3) were compared with samples from Göttingen minipigs (GM) aged either 18 or 40 months (GM-18 and GM-40) using transmitted light (phase-contrast mode) and transmission electron microscopy. The GM-18, GM-40 and the DL-3 groups had typical muscular artery histological characteristics. Contrasting to this, the 2-month-old DL pigs had a transitional artery type being characterized by a significantly higher proportion of elastic fibres and a significantly lower number of smooth muscle cells than did the 1 month older DL-3. During the period of maturation, the tunica media of the CCA in GM animals thickened by 1.3× and in DL animals by 2.5× resulting in an overall increased vessel wall thickness. The cumulated thickness of the tunica interna (endothelium, stratum subendotheliale and internal elastic lamina) and the tunica media (including the external elastic lamina) of DL-3 and GM-40 pigs were similar to each other and comparable to that of humans. With an increasing vessel wall thickness, the luminal diameter decreased in GM by 19% and in DL by 11%. Additionally, in the older age groups, GM-40 and DL-3, the internal elastic lamina principally was continuous, but there were also interrupted large segments of elastic lamina separated by gaps. In addition, the principal internal elastic lamina was duplicated in several places.