Microstructure and network organization of the microvasculature in the human macula

Paula K. Yu, Chandrakumar Balaratnasingam, Stephen J. Cringle, Ian L. Mcallister, Jan Provis, Yu Dao-Yi*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    87 Citations (Scopus)


    PURPOSE. To characterize the topography and cellular structure of the macular microvasculature using a recently developed technique of arterial cannulation, perfusion, fixation, and staining of human donor eyes. METHODS. Sixteen human donor eyes were used. The central retinal artery was cannulated and perfused with Ringer's, then fixative, membrane permeabilizing, and selected labeling solutions. The eyes were immersion fixed, and the retina was flat mounted for confocal microscopy. The macular area, including the foveola, fovea, and parafovea, was sampled. The intracellular cytoskeleton of vascular endothelial and smooth muscle cells was studied in different orders of arterioles and venules and in the capillaries. To evaluate the degree of asymmetry within vascular networks, the distribution of generation numbers and the Horton-Strahler approach to vessel naming were compared. RESULTS. The distribution of the microvascular network in the macular region was complex but followed a general theme. The parafoveal region was supplied by dense vasculature with approximately nine closely arranged pairs of arterioles and venules. Each arteriole had abundant branches and a high degree of asymmetry (~10 generations and 3.5 orders within 1.2-mm length). Only a few arterioles (average ~2.9) supplied the terminal capillary ring. Very long spindle endothelial cells were seen in the superficial and deep capillaries. Significant heterogeneity of distribution and shape of the endothelial and smooth muscle cells was evident in different orders of the macular vasculature. CONCLUSIONS. The authors have demonstrated for the first time the cellular structure and topographic features of the macular microvasculature in human donor eyes.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)6735-6743
    Number of pages9
    JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
    Issue number12
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010


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