Endothelial, not hemodynamic, differences are responsible for preferential leukocyte rolling in rat mesenteric vanules

K. Ley, P. Gaehtgens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

198 Scopus citations


At the onset of the inflammatory process, leukocytes roll along venular but not arteriolar walls before they firmly attach and emigrate. To test whether differences in hydrodynamic flow conditions are responsible for the preferential occurrence of leukocyte rolling in venules, we varied wall shear rate, γ(w), between 30 and 2,000 sec-1 by selective micro-occlusion of side branches in venules and arterioles (diameter, 20-37 μm) of the exposed mesentery of anesthetized rats. In venules, 39% (range, 6-77%) of all passing leukocytes were found interacting with the endothelium (rolling), whereas this fraction was only 0.6% in arterioles. The fraction of rolling leukocytes in venules decreased from 49 ± 13% at γ(w)<100 sec-1 (N = 12) to 24 ± 13% at γ(w)>400 sec-1 (N = 12). Mean leukocyte rolling velocity in venules increased with γ(w), but the most frequent rolling velocity class was 20-40 μm/sec at all shear rates. In arterioles, even prolonged (up to 90 minutes) conditions of reduced flow (γ(w)<150 sec-1) did not induce leukocyte rolling. Radial distribution of freely flowing leukocytes was not different in arterioles and venules. The data indicate that hemodynamic factors are not responsible for the difference of leukocyte adhesion between arterioles and venules. The venular endothelium appears to be specialized to support leukocyte adhesion during inflammation. This finding correlates with reports on preferential expression of various endothelial-leukocyte adhesion molecules on venular endothelial cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1034-1041
Number of pages8
JournalCirculation research
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • Adhesion
  • Endothelium
  • Leukocyte
  • Venule

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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