Reference > Anatomy of the Human Body > Page 498
Henry Gray (1825–1861).  Anatomy of the Human Body.  1918.
whence it is conveyed to the right atrium. From this it will be seen that the blood contained in the portal vein passes through two sets of vessels: (1) the capillaries in the spleen, pancreas, stomach, etc., and (2) the sinusoids in the liver. The blood in the portal vein carries certain of the products of digestion: the carbohydrates, which are mostly taken up by the liver cells and stored as glycogen, and the protein products which remain in solution and are carried into the general circulation to the various tissues and organs of the body.
  Speaking generally, the arteries may be said to contain pure and the veins impure blood. This is true of the systemic, but not of the pulmonary vessels, since it has been seen that the impure blood is conveyed from the heart to the lungs by the pulmonary arteries, and the pure blood returned from the lungs to the heart by the pulmonary veins. Arteries, therefore, must be defined as vessels which convey blood from the heart, and veins as vessels which return blood to the heart.

Structure of Arteries (Fig. 448).—The arteries are composed of three coats: an internal or endothelial coat (tunica intima of Kölliker); a middle or muscular coat (tunica media); and an external or connective-tissue coat (tunica adventitia). The two inner coats together are very easily separated from the external, as by the ordinary operation of tying a ligature around an artery. If a fine string be tied forcibly upon an artery and then taken off, the external coat will be found undivided, but the two inner coats are divided in the track of the ligature and can easily be further dissected from the outer coat.
  The inner coat (tunica intima) can be separated from the middle by a little maceration, or it may be stripped off in small pieces; but, on account of its friability, it cannot be separated as a complete membrane. It is a fine, transparent, colorless structure which is highly elastic, and, after death, is commonly corrugated into longitudinal wrinkles. The inner coat consists of: (1) A layer of pavement endothelium, the cells of which are polygonal, oval, or fusiform, and have very distinct round or oval nuclei. This endothelium is brought into view most distinctly by staining with nitrate of silver. (2) A subendothelial layer, consisting of delicate connective tissue with branched cells lying in the interspaces of the tissue; in arteries of less than 2 mm. in diameter the subendothelial layer consists of a single stratum of stellate cells, and the connective tissue is only largely developed in vessels of a considerable size. (3) An elastic or fenestrated layer, which consists of a membrane containing a net-work of elastic fibers, having principally a longitudinal direction, and in which, under the microscope, small elongated apertures or perforations may be seen, giving it a fenestrated appearance. It was therefore called by Henle the fenestrated membrane. This membrane forms the chief thickness of the inner coat, and can be separated into several layers, some of which present the appearance of a net-work of longitudinal elastic fibers, and others a more membranous character, marked by pale lines having a longitudinal direction. In minute arteries the fenestrated membrane is a very thin layer; but in the larger arteries, and especially in the aorta, it has a very considerable thickness.

FIG. 448– Transverse section through a small artery and vein of the mucous membrane of the epiglottis of a child. X 350. (Klein and Noble Smith.) A. Artery, showing the nucleated endothelium, e, which lines it; the vessel being contracted, the endothelial cells appear very thick. Underneath the endothelium is the wavy elastic lamina. The chief part of the wall of the vessel is occupied by the circular muscle coat m; the rod-shaped nuclei of the muscle cells are well seen. Outside this is a, part of the adventitia. This is composed of bundles of connective tissue fibers, shown in section, with the nuclei of the connective tissue corpuscles. The adventitia gradually merges into the surrounding connective tissue. V. Vein showing a thin endothelial membrane, e, raised accidentally from the intima, which on account of its delicacy is seen as a mere line on the media m. This latter is composed of a few circular unstriped muscle cells a. The adventitia, similar in structure to that of an artery. (See enlarged image)

  The middle coat (tunica media) is distinguished from the inner by its color and by the transverse arrangement of its fibers. In the smaller arteries it consists principally of plain muscle fibers in fine bundles, arranged in lamellæ and disposed circularly around the vessel. These lamellæ vary in number according to the size of the vessel; the smallest arteries having only a single layer (Fig. 449), and those slightly larger three or four layers. It is to this coat that the thickness of the wall of the artery is mainly due (Fig. 448 A, m). In the larger arteries, as the


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