Retinal microcirculation as revealed by SEM corrosion casts in the rat

Eur J Ophthalmol. 1991 Apr-Jun;1(2):96-102. doi: 10.1177/112067219100100208.


The morphology of the retinal microcirculation has been extensively studied by different techniques. Nevertheless, some problems concerning the capillary bed lamination and pre- and postcapillary patterns have not yet been clarified. In the present study the SEM corrosion cast technique was employed to study the three-dimensional relationships of rat retinal vessels and to follow the smallest vascular branches. Rat retina is considered a useful experimental model for a number of pathologies which affect the microvascular bed deeply. Two precapillary patterns have been observed. Precapillary arterioles gave rise to capillaries both as terminal branches or as collaterals. The former pattern of ramification allows only a regulation of flow in a whole group of capillaries downstream, the latter pattern could provide a finer regulation of blood flow. SEM corrosion casts have shown very well the lamination of the capillary bed: one can easily realize this by seeing the overlapped meshes of the two different planes, vessels in between the two capillary laminae can always be followed from one meshwork to the other. This three-dimensional organization is an interesting model for retinal circulation because it shows many features in common with the retina of humans and primates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Corrosion Casting
  • Male
  • Microcirculation / ultrastructure*
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred BN
  • Retinal Vessels / ultrastructure*