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Microscopic anatomy of the thin-walled vessels leaving the heart of the lobster Homarus americanus: anterior lateral arteries

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The anterior lateral arteries are paired vessels leaving the anterior end of the lobster (Homarus americanus) heart and proceeding to the antennae and eyestalks, the stomach and hepatopancreas, the gonads, and the thoracic and branchial muscles. These vessels have a trilaminar organization, consisting of a tunica interna with elastic fibrils, a tunica intermedia represented by a bilayered cell mass, and a tunica externa with collagen fibrils. In the tunica intermedia, cells flanking the tunica interna (light cells) show less affinity for basic dyes and electron stains than those flanking the tunica externa (dark cells). Each light cell exhibits an irregularly shaped stress fiber (a bundle of closely packed microfilaments) in the region adjoining the tunica interna. Collectively, these bundles have a circumferential or slightly oblique orientation relative to the lumen of the vessel. The role of the stress fibers is unresolved. If they are static structures, they might contribute to the non-linear elasticity shown by lobster arteries. If they generate force, and small bundles of microfilaments do diverge from the stress fibers to enter filamentous mats applied to the plasmalemmata, a coordinated contraction of the cells might reduce the luminal diameter and, thus, retard the flow of hemolymph. Coordination of contraction would have to occur in the absence of nerves and without the benefit of communicating (gap) junctions between the light and dark cells.

Keywords: F-actin immunohistochemistry; hemolymph vessel; microfilaments

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Division of Zoology, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada T2N 1N4

Publication date: April 1, 2006


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