Pronounced vascular changes occurring in the ears and claws of mice during anaphylactic shock are described. Practically at once after a foreign serum (pig, horse, or rabbit) enters the blood stream of sensitized animals both the arterial and venous vessels undergo marked, local or generalized constriction in the organs mentioned. Usually spasm of the vessel walls occurs simultaneously in the arteries and veins, but it may appear first in the arteries, or occasionally in the veins. When venous spasm precedes arterial spasm, the true capillaries become distended with cells; if the reverse order holds, the ears appear bloodless. There is no active constriction or dilatation of capillaries; the capillary behavior follows passively the changes in the large vessels.
Peripheral vascular spasm occurs while the carotid blood pressure is high, but a few minutes later, while this still holds true, the ear vessels begin to relax and the circulation is resumed. Shortly afterwards the blood pressure falls to levels far below normal, but the vessels remain open.
If the circulation of one ear is obstructed while anaphylactic shock is produced, no vascular spasm occurs in it. Release of the obstruction during the animal's recovery results in belated constriction of the blood vessels of this ear although by now the vessels in the other ear are dilated and the general systolic blood pressure is very low.
The vascular reactions in the ears appear to be uninfluenced by the blood pressure in the large vessels, and they are not a response to nervous stimuli. They are local in origin.
The vascular changes are often not clearly perceptible in the gross but are plainly to be seen under a low power of the microscope. They occur in some sensitized mice exhibiting no manifest signs of shock, differing only in degree from the changes taking place when shock is severe or fatal.