A method for evaluating the murine pulmonary vasculature using micro-computed tomography

J Surg Res. 2017 Jan;207:115-122. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2016.08.074. Epub 2016 Aug 31.


Background: Significant mortality and morbidity are associated with alterations in the pulmonary vasculature. While techniques have been described for quantitative morphometry of whole-lung arterial trees in larger animals, no methods have been described in mice. We report a method for the quantitative assessment of murine pulmonary arterial vasculature using high-resolution computed tomography scanning.

Methods: Mice were harvested at 2 weeks, 4 weeks, and 3 months of age. The pulmonary artery vascular tree was pressure perfused to maximal dilation with a radio-opaque casting material with viscosity and pressure set to prevent capillary transit and venous filling. The lungs were fixed and scanned on a specimen computed tomography scanner at 8-μm resolution, and the vessels were segmented. Vessels were grouped into categories based on lumen diameter and branch generation.

Results: Robust high-resolution segmentation was achieved, permitting detailed quantitation of pulmonary vascular morphometrics. As expected, postnatal lung development was associated with progressive increase in small-vessel number and arterial branching complexity.

Conclusions: These methods for quantitative analysis of the pulmonary vasculature in postnatal and adult mice provide a useful tool for the evaluation of mouse models of disease that affect the pulmonary vasculature.

Keywords: Computed tomography; Lung development; Pulmonary circulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL*
  • Models, Animal*
  • Pulmonary Artery / anatomy & histology
  • Pulmonary Artery / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pulmonary Artery / growth & development*
  • X-Ray Microtomography*