Topological structure of rat mesenteric microvessel networks

K. Ley, A. R. Pries, P. Gaehtgens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Microvascular lengths, diameters, and flow directions were determined in all vessel segments (n = 1303) between bifurcations in three complete rat mesenteric microvessel networks (25 mm2 each) using intravital video- and photomicroscopy. The classification of vessel segments as arteriolar, venular, or av-segments (all segments connecting the arteriolar to the venular tree) was based on purely topological criteria. The topological structure of the networks was analyzed using the Horton-Strahler technique and a new generation scheme. Generation numbers were assigned to the vessel segments on the basis of the number of upstream (in the arteriolar tree) and downstream (in the venular tree) bifurcations. The mean generation number of the av-segments, a characteristic parameter of the generation scheme, reflects the topological structure of the network more accurately than Horton's branching ratio Rb. Both the arteriolar and venular tree of the mesenteric networks were found to be dichotomous branching structures which were neither strictly symmetric nor strictly asymmetric. The topological information obtained was compared to network models generated by different random branching algorithms. The result of this comparison suggests that the network structure changes at a certain generation level. Distal to this generation level, the mesenteric networks resemble a model network generated by random branching at any segment, while the proximal portion is similar to a model allowing random branching at terminal segments only.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)315-332
Number of pages18
JournalMicrovascular Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 1986
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Cell Biology


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