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HPB Surgery
Volume 10 (1997), Issue 3, Pages 149-158

Microvascular Architecture of Hepatic Metastases in a Mouse Model

Department of Surgery, Monash Medical School, Alfred Hospital, Prahran 3181, Victoria, Australia

Received 10 July 1995

Copyright © 1997 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Development of effective treatment for hepatic metastases can be initiated by a better understanding of tumour vasculature and blood supply. This study was designed to characterise the microvascular architecture of hepatic metastases and observe the source of contributory blood supply from the host. Metastases were induced in mice by an intrasplenic injection of colon carcinoma cells (106 cells/ml.) Vascularization of tumours was studied over a three week period by scanning electron microscopy of microvascular corrosion casts. Metastatic liver involvement was observed initially within a week post induction, as areas approximately 100 μm in diameter not perfused by the casting resin. On histology these spaces corresponded to tumour cell aggregates. The following weeks highlighted the angiogenesis phase of these tumours as they received a vascular supply from adjacent hepatic sinusoids. Direct sinusoidal supply of metastases was maintained throughout tumour growth. At the tumour periphery most sinusoids were compressed to form a sheath demarcating the tumour from the hepatic vasculature. No direct supply from the hepatic artery or the portal vein was observed. Dilated vessels termed vascular lakes dominated the complex microvascular architecture of the tumours, most tapering as they traversed towards the periphery. Four vascular branching patterns could be identified as true loops, bifurcations and trifurcations, spirals and capillary networks. The most significant observation in this study was the direct sinusoidal supply of metastases, together with the vascular lakes and the peripheral sinusoidal sheaths of the tumour microculature.