Alterations in perfused capillary morphometry in awake vs anesthetized brain

Ellen Buchweitz, Harvey R. Weiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


This study quantitatively compared various indices of perfused capillary morphometry in pentobarbital-anesthetized and awake rat brains. We hypothesized that barbiturate anesthesia would reduce intraregional differences in percent perfused capillary volume and surface area. A high-molecular-weight FITC-labeled Dextran was injected intravenously into awake or barbiturate-anesthetized (50 mg/kg i.p.) rats. After 20s, the animal was decapitated and the head frozen in liquid N2. Nine brain regions were isolated and mounted in a microtome cryostat. Sections, 2μm thick, were photographed with a fluorescent microscope to detect the perfused capillaries. The sections were stained for alkaline phosphatase to visualize the total capillary network. Standard morphometric techniques were employed to determine the total and perfused volume (Vv), surface area (Sv) per mm3 and diameter (D) from the photographs. There were no significant differences in any index of total capillary morphometry among the regions in the anesthetized brain. Approximately half of the average total capillary bed was perfused and there were no significant differences in percent perfused Vv or Sv between awake and anesthetized brains. There were significant differences among the various brain regions in the perfused capillary bed of the awake rat. The percent perfused capillary Vv and Sv in the awake rat was significantly greater in the thalamus and anterior cortex than in other brain regions. In awake rats, the percent perfused capillary Vv ranged from 67.9 ± 4.7% (mean ± S.E.M.) in the thalamus to 26.1 ± 4.3% in the posterior cortex. Thus, while the average percent perfused indices of capillary morphometry were not altered by anesthesia, regional differences in these indices among the examined regions were abolished with anesthesia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-111
Number of pages7
JournalBrain research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2 1986

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


  • barbiturate anesthesia
  • brain
  • capillary diameter
  • capillary morphometry
  • capillary volume

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