• Vol. 28 No. 4, 542–556
  • 15 July 1999

Intravital Microscopy for the Study of the Microcirculation in Various Disease States



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The study of the microcirculation by intravital microscopy represents a sophisticated research tool to analyse complex biological interactions and disease mechanisms as well as to develop and test novel prophylactic and therapeutic approaches aimed at the prevention or attenuation of manifestation of disease-associated microvascular disorders and cellular dysfunction. This may include pathogenesis of atherosclerosis and thrombosis, fibrosis and cirrhosis as well as hypertension, diabetes and tumorogenesis. In addition, using the microscopic technique, circulatory and cellular disorders in surgical diseases and procedures, such as shock and resuscitation, ischaemia/ reperfusion and transplantation, trauma, sepsis and inflammation, as well as burn injury and wound healing, may be analysed. With the background of the increasing knowledge of molecular and cellular mechanisms of disease evaluated in vitro, the technique of intravital microscopy ideally allows to bridge over from those in vitro observations to test their potential relevance in vivo.

It is more than 150 years ago when the first detailed description of intravital microscopy was given by Waller, demonstrating in the frog tongue the passage of leukocytes (at that time interpreted as “mucous and pus globules”) through microvessels. Later, the mesentery was acknowledged as the most suitable object for the in vivo study of microvascular morphology and function, probably due to its ease of exposure and its high translucency.

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