A quantitative study of the en face size and shape of endothelial cells from aortic intercostal ostia has been carried out in rabbits. Photomicrographs were taken from vascular casts of the rabbit aorta and the endothelial cell outlines were analyzed quantitatively using a digitizer and digital computer. The morphology of the endothelial cells was described using 8 calculated parameters (area, perimeter, length, width, angle of orientation, width: length ratio, axis-intersection ratio and shape index). Marked changes in cell morphology were found in the regions proximal and distal to ostia as well as around flow dividers. Cells on the aorta are aligned with the flow direction, and the endothelial cells within the ostia have an angle of orientation of approximately 45 deg to the axis of the vessel. The results obtained to date suggest that endothelial cell morphology and orientation around a branch vessel may be a natural marker or indicator of the detailed features of blood flow.

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