This study was undertaken to develop a technique for the preparation of sheets of endothelial cells and to investigate the effects of bacterial endotoxin on large numbers of cells from continuous sheets of vascular endothelium.
Rabbits were divided into one control and two experimental groups. The experimental animals received intracardially an LD50 dose of Escherichia coli endotoxin. 1 and 24 hr postinjection, the vessels of the animals were perfused with glutaraldehyde in Millonig's buffer with methylene blue as a marker.
Pieces of mesentery containing arteries were postfixed in buffered glutaraldehyde, dehydrated, and placed in acetone (to remove fat deposits). The surrounding connective tissue was stripped from the mesenteric arteries, and segments of the vessels were slit longitudinally, flattened out, and firmly affixed to a sheet of cork with fine mounting pins. A 3% solution of Formvar in ethylene dichloride was pipetted onto the luminal surfaces of the vessels. The endothelial cells were impregnated with and adhered to the Formvar and, after soaking overnight in 10 N NaOH, could be stripped from the vessel walls as monolayers. Sheets of Formvar-impregnated cells were temporarily mounted on glass slides in aqueous methylene blue and examined by phase and bright-field microscopy. Methylene blue stained the nuclei a deep blue and the cytoplasm faintly, but cell outlines were indistinct.
Endothelial sheets from control rabbits had smooth, elliptical nuclei oriented parallel to the longitudinal axis of the cells and irregularly distributed over a smooth background with faint longitudinal striations.
Essentially every cell in endothelial sheets from endotoxin-injected animals appeared to be severely damaged. Cell sheets from 24 hr posttreatment animals exhibited the same type of, but more extensive, damage than that observed in 1 hr posttreatment animals. The most prominent features of the damaged endothelium were distorted nuclei, apparent nuclear vacuolization, and missing nuclei.
Unstained platelets and plaques were present on the surfaces of the specimens from the experimental animals only. Stained and unstained red blood cells were also dispersed over the luminal surfaces of the endotoxin-treated vessels.