Microvessel organization and structure in experimental brain tumors: Microvessel populations with distinctive structural and functional properties

Kurt E. Schlageter, Peter Molnar, Gregory D. Lapin, Dennis R. Groothuis

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We studied microvessel organization in five brain tumor models (ENU, MSV, RG-2, S635c115, and D-54MG) and normal brain, including microvessel diameter (LMVD), intermicrovessel distance (IMVD), microvessel density (MVD), surface area (S(v)), and orientation. LMVD and IMVD were larger and MVD was lower in tumors than normal brain. S(v) in tumors overlapped normal brain values and orientation was random in both tumors and brain. ENU and RG-2 tumors and brain were studied by electron microscopy. Tumor microvessel wall was thicker than that of brain. ENU and normal brain microvessels were continuous and nonfenestrated. RG-2 microvessels contained fenestrations and endothelial gaps; the latter had a maximum major axis of 3.0 μm. Based on anatomic measurements, the pore area of RG-2 tumors was estimated at 7.4 x 10-6 cm2 g-1 from fenestrations and 3.5 x 10-5 cm2 g-1 from endothelial gaps. Increased permeability of RG-2 microvessels to macromolecules is most likely attributable to endothelial gaps. Three microvessel populations may occur in brain tumors: (1) continuous nonfenestrated, (2) continuous fenestrated, and (3) discontinuous (with or without fenestrations). The first group may be unique to brain tumors; the latter two are similar to microvessels found in systemic tumors. Since structure-function properties of brain tumor microvessels will affect drug delivery, studies of microvessel function should be incorporated into clinical trials of brain tumor therapy, especially those using macromolecules.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)312-328
Number of pages17
JournalMicrovascular Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1999



  • Blood-brain barrier
  • Brain tumor
  • Glioma
  • Microvessels
  • Morphometry
  • Permeability
  • Ultrastructure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Cell Biology

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