A systematic survey of endothelial junctions in elastic (aorta) and muscular (mesenteric) arteries and in medium (renal and mesenteric) and large (cava inferior) size veins has been carried out in the rat using freeze-cleaved preparations. The arterial endothelium is provided with a complex of occluding and communicating junctions (gap junctions) comparable to, though less elaborate than, that described in arterioles. The particles of the occluding junctions behave like "single unit" particles and have the tendency to remain on B faces upon membrane cleavage. In the venous endothelium the junctions take the form of long occluding junctions with few associated communicating junctions (maculae communicantes). As in arterial endothelium, the junctional particles appear preferentially on B faces in cleaved preparations. These structures, although continuous over long distances, are interrupted focally by areas in which the junctional elements are similar to those found in venules: the ridges and grooves are short, discontinuous, randomly distributed along the general line of cell contact, and often particle-free. In muscular arteries two unusual types of junctions are encountered. Both are disposed in loops over short distances along the perimeter of the cell. One type appears to be a strectched-out version of the usual combination of occluding and communcating junctions of the arterial endothelium (this type is also occasionally encountered in the venous endothelium). The other type is reminiscent of the septate junctions found in the epithelia of invertebrates but the apparent similarity remains to be checked by further work.

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