Vascular supply of the anterior interventricular epicardial nerves and ventricular Purkinje fibers in the porcine hearts
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The aim of this study was to perform a pilot histological and quantitative analysis of the blood vessels accompanying the epicardial nerves (vasa nervorum) in the porcine hearts. Twenty healthy porcine hearts were used in this study. The blood vessels were analyzed by light microscopy using four different staining techniques in transverse sections taken from the upper, middle, and lower segments of the anterior part of the interventricular region and the adjacent parts of the right and left ventricles containing epicardial nerves and the endocardial peripheral parts of the Purkinje fibers. In total, 317 epicardial nerves were detected. The vasa nervorum were present in 75.7% of these nerves. The vasa nervorum resembled arterioles and postcapillary and collecting venules. One hundred and forty nine epicardial nerves were perivascular, located in the adventitia of the anterior interventricular artery and vein. The remaining 168 nerves ran freely through the epicardial interstitium. The presence of the vasa nervorum was not related to topographical location or nerve diameter. Additionally, from a total of 33 analyzed ventricular complexes of Purkinje fibers small blood vessels located in their proximity were identified in only two cases. It can be concluded that the majority of the anterior epicardial nerves of porcine heart possess well-developed vasa nervorum. In contrast, similar blood vessels are rarely present in the vicinity of the Purkinje fibers. The data obtained contribute to a better understanding of the nutrition of the cardiac nerves.
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