Physiol. Res. 52: 525-531, 2003

Remodeling of the Rat Saphenous Vein Network in Response to Long-Term Gravitational Load


Institute of Human Physiology and Clinical Experimental Research, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary

Received June 10, 2002
Accepted October 25, 2002

Our main objective was to test whether chronic orthostatic body position induces network changes in the saphenous vein superficial tributary system of the rat. Fourteen male Sprague-Dawley rats were kept in tilted tube cages (45º head-up position) for two weeks to induce chronic gravitational load to their leg veins. Ten animals housed in normal cages and four animals kept in horizontally positioned tube cages served as controls. The whole superficial network of the left saphenous vein was microprepared surgically under anesthesia, superfused with saline and observed under a videomicroscope, while normal flow and pressure were maintained in the lumen. Branching angles, lengths of venous segments and their diameters were measured offline from digitized images using special image-analyzing software. Several branching angles at the popliteal confluence were significantly reduced by 12.5-15.8 %. The in vivo diameter of the main branch (936±34 vs. 805±44 µm) and of one of the popliteal tributaries (776±38 vs. 635±36 µm) increased (p<0.05), comparing vessels from tilted animals with those from normal controls. Maintaining the animals in horizontal tube cages did not induce the above alterations. The increased diameters and reduced branching angles of the saphenous vein network observed are adaptive responses of the venous network to a long-term gravitational load.

Key words
Mapping • Microcirculation • Remodeling • Veins • Gravitational load

Reprint requests
G.L. Nádasy MD PhD, Institute of Human Physiology and Clinical Experimental Research, Semmelweis University, Üllői út 78/a, H-1082 Budapest, Hungary, email:

© 2003 by the Institute of Physiology, Czech Academy of Sciences