Microvasculature of the thyroid gland in the common tree shrew (Tupaia glis): microvascular corrosion cast/scanning electron microscopy study

Acta Anat (Basel). 1991;142(3):208-14. doi: 10.1159/000147191.


A thyroid vascular cast of the common tree shrew (Tupaia glis) was obtained by injection of Batson's No. 17 plastic mixture into the ascending aorta. The cast was studied under the scanning electron microscope. It was found that each half of the gland is supplied by a large superior and a rather small inferior thyroid artery. After plunging into the gland, the arteries divide into smaller branches that are the interlobular, intralobular and follicular arteries (afferent vessels). The basket-like capillaries arising from the follicular arteries and encapsulating thyroid follicles are of large diameter and are arranged in a single layer. The follicular side of the capillary casts was observed to contain numerous small and some large projecting knobs compatible with the presence of fenestrations in the endothelial cells. On the other hand, endothelial nuclear imprints were found mainly on the stromal surface of the follicular capillary casts. Transfollicular capillaries connecting the adjacent follicular capillary networks were also observed. Blood from the follicular capillaries either drains into the follicular veins (efferent vessels) or abruptly drains into the intralobular veins before proceeding to intralobular and interlobular veins, respectively. The interlobular veins are collected into a few small superior, a few larger middle and a few even larger inferior thyroid veins. These veins drain directly into the laryngeal vein lying adjacent to the deep surface of the thyroid gland before joining the jugular vein. Venous valves were identified outside the thyroid gland. In addition, the glomerular capillary island of the parathyroid gland was often seen at the cranioanterolateral and sometimes at the cranioposterolateral aspect of the thyroid gland.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Corrosion Casting
  • Female
  • Male
  • Microcirculation / ultrastructure
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Thyroid Gland / blood supply*
  • Tupaiidae / anatomy & histology*