Assessing Collagen and Elastin Pressure-dependent Microarchitectures in Live, Human Resistance Arteries by Label-free Fluorescence Microscopy

Maria Bloksgaard, Bjarne Thorsted, Jonathan R Brewer, Jo G R De Mey

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The pathogenic contribution of resistance artery remodeling is documented in essential hypertension, diabetes and the metabolic syndrome. Investigations and development of microstructurally motivated mathematical models for understanding the mechanical properties of human resistance arteries in health and disease have the potential to aid understanding how disease and medical treatments affect the human microcirculation. To develop these mathematical models, it is essential to decipher the relationship between the mechanical and microarchitectural properties of the microvascular wall. In this work, we describe an ex vivo method for passive mechanical testing and simultaneous label-free three-dimensional imaging of the microarchitecture of elastin and collagen in the arterial wall of isolated human resistance arteries. The imaging protocol can be applied to resistance arteries of any species of interest. Image analyses are described for quantifying i) pressure-induced changes in internal elastic lamina branching angles and adventitial collagen straightness using Fiji and ii) collagen and elastin volume densities determined using Ilastik software. Preferably all mechanical and imaging measurements are performed on live, perfused arteries, however, an alternative approach using standard video-microscopy pressure myography in combination with post-fixation imaging of re-pressurized vessels is discussed. This alternative method provides users with different options for analysis approaches. The inclusion of the mechanical and imaging data in mathematical models of the arterial wall mechanics is discussed, and future development and additions to the protocol are proposed.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere57451
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Publication statusPublished - 9. Apr 2018


  • Bioengineering
  • Extracellular matrix
  • Fiji
  • Ilastik
  • Image analyses
  • Issue 134
  • Mathematical modeling
  • Mechanics
  • Microstructure
  • Resistance arteries
  • Two-photon excitation fluorescence microscopy


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