Examination of the rat corpus luteum (CL) provided quantitative data supporting adaptation of the developing vasculature to maximise efficient acceptance of steroids secreted from the luteal cells (LC). Numbers of endothelial cells (ECs) significantly increased during the initial formation of the CL, followed by a further significant proliferation from day 10 to day 16 when there was maximal growth of the CL. As a consequence, there was significant growth of the vascular compartment during this time interval. The final phase of expanding endothelium (days 10 to 16) was a result of increased EC volume with elongation of the EC in the direction of growth. Continued increase in capillary surface area and a corresponding marked reduction in diffusion distance between LC and ECs evidenced adaptation of the developing microvasculature to enable efficient endocrine function by day 16, when steroid secretion is maximal. Furthermore, from day 1 to day 3 there was close apposition of pericytes to the endothelium, suggesting the important role of pericytes in the initiation of angiogenesis. However, this degree of association was reduced from day 10 to day 16 and was a consequence of expansion of the EC cytoplasm to provide a greater surface area for transport of steroids.
|Publication status||Published - 2005|