Morphological and pharmacological characterization of the porcine popliteal artery: A novel model for study of lower limb arterial disease

Norman E. Frederick, Ray Mitchell, Travis W. Hein, Pooneh Bagher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objective: This study was undertaken to characterize structural and pharmacological properties of the pig popliteal artery in order to develop a novel system for the examination of lower limb blood flow regulation in a variety of cardiovascular pathologies, such as diabetes-induced peripheral artery disease. Methods: Popliteal arteries were isolated from streptozocin-induced diabetic pigs or age-matched saline-injected control pigs for morphological study using transmission electron microscopy and for examination of vasoreactivity to pharmacological agents using wire myography. Results: Transmission electron microscopy of the porcine popliteal artery wall revealed the presence of endothelial cell-smooth muscle cell interactions (myoendothelial junctions) and smooth muscle cell-smooth muscle cell interactions, for which we have coined the term “myo-myo junctions.” These myo-myo junctions were shown to feature plaques indicative of connexin expression. Further, the pig popliteal artery was highly responsive to a variety of vasoconstrictors including norepinephrine, phenylephrine, and U46619, and vasodilators including acetylcholine, adenosine 5′-[β-thio] diphosphate, and bradykinin. Finally, 2 weeks after streptozocin-induced diabetes, the normalized vasoconstriction of the pig popliteal artery to norepinephrine was unaltered compared to control. Conclusions: The pig popliteal artery displays structural and pharmacological properties that might prove useful in future studies of diabetes-associated peripheral artery disease and other lower limb cardiovascular diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12527
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • blood flow regulation
  • diabetes model
  • myo-myo junction
  • myoendothelial junction
  • porcine popliteal artery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'Morphological and pharmacological characterization of the porcine popliteal artery: A novel model for study of lower limb arterial disease'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this