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Open Access Research article

Comparison of vascular smooth muscle cells in canine great vessels

Noriko Isayama, Goki Matsumura* and Kenji Yamazaki

Author Affiliations

Cardiovascular Surgery, The Heart Institute of Japan, Tokyo Women’s Medical University, 8-1 Kawada-cho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 162-8666, Japan

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BMC Veterinary Research 2013, 9:54  doi:10.1186/1746-6148-9-54

Published: 25 March 2013



Elucidating the histological characteristics of normal vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) is important for understanding mechanisms of development, disease etiology and the remodeling and/or regeneration process of the vessel. However, knowledge regarding VSMCs is focused primarily on the artery. Although the characteristics of each great vessel are documented, few studies have examined VSMCs in parallel within each great vessel. The present study focused on comparing characteristics of canine VSMCs within the aorta (Ao), branch pulmonary artery (bPA), main pulmonary artery (mPA) and inferior vena cava (IVC), simultaneously.


Western blot and immunohistochemistry were used to determine VSMC protein content for alpha smooth muscle actin (ASMA), calponin, myosin heavy chain (MHC) and its isozyme SM2, and non-muscle myosin heavy chain B (SMemb). Thickness and ratio of the VSMC layer were also measured. Expression levels of ASMA, calponin and SM2 significantly differed between vessels, except between mPA and either bPA, Ao and IVC vessels. Expression levels of MHC were significantly different in all vessels, whilst expression of SMemb was significantly different in the Ao compared with either bPA and mPA vessels. All vessels were significantly different with respect to total wall and VSMC layer thickness. The ratio between VSMC layer and total wall thickness was significantly different for each vessel, except between bPA and mPA vessels. Histological analysis of the IVC revealed that the VSMC layer does not line evenly and continuously through the long axis or transverse sections. With respect to the pulmonary artery, calponin was expressed to a greater extent in the mPA compared with the bPA (P < 0.01*). In contrast, MHC and SM2 were expressed to a greater extent in the bPA compared with the mPA (P < 0.01*). Differences in VSMC distribution indicate structural differences in the proximal and distal pulmonary artery bifurcation.


Our results show that the VSMC expression pattern in each great vessel is unique and suggestive of the developmental differences between great vessels. We believe this study provides basic data for the pathology, etiology and regenerative capability of the vessels.

Canine; Smooth muscle cells; Vessel; Histology