Pododermal angioarchitecture in the equine hoof wall : a light and scanning electron microscopic study of the wall proper
BACKGROUND:Blood supply is an important factor for the normal function of the equine hoof, but earlier studies present conflicting data on functional characteristics of its angioarchitecture. OBJECTIVE:Emphasis was laid on demonstration of the microvascularisation in the different hoof wall regions, aiming at assessment of specialised vascular structures, e.g. vascular sphincter mechanisms and arteriovenous anastomoses. METHODS:The angioarchitecture of the adult pododerma in the equine hoof wall was examined by scanning electron microscopy of micro-corrosion casts assisted by exemplary histological and immuno-histochemical characterisation of the pododermal vasculature. RESULTS:The microvasculature of the lamellae and terminal papillae in all hoof wall regions was described in detail. Focal dilations and microvascular sphincters were a common feature. In contrast to former investigations, true arteriovenous anastomoses were detected at the base of the primary lamellae and the terminal papillae only, while thoroughfare channels proved a regular element within the microvasculature of the wall proper. Bicuspid venous valves were detected as regular feature. For the first time, the alpha-smooth muscle actin-reactivity of the microvascularisation in the hoof wall was systematically assessed, verifying its specialised vasomotor devices. CONCLUSIONS:The vasculature of the hoof wall displays specific angio-adaptations to high pressure and tensile load.