Capillary: The Smallest of a Body's Blood Vessels

Topics: Blood, Artery, Vein Pages: 17 (3975 words) Published: March 26, 2011
Capillary
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For other uses, see Capillary (disambiguation).

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Blood flows from the heart to arteries, which branch and narrow into arterioles, and then narrow further still into capillaries. After the tissue has been perfused, capillaries branch and widen to become venules and then widen more and connect to become veins, which return blood to the heart. Capillaries (pronounced /ˈkæpəˌlɛri/) are the smallest of a body's blood vessels and are part of the microcirculation. They are only 1 cell thick. These microvessels, measuring 5-10 μm in diameter, connect arterioles and venules, and enable the exchange of water, oxygen, carbon dioxide, and many other nutrient and waste chemical substances between blood and surrounding tissues.[1] |Contents |

|[hide] |
|1 Anatomy |
|1.1 Types |
|2 Physiology |
|3 The variables |
|4 History |
|5 See also |
|6 References |
|7 External links |

[pic][edit] Anatomy
Blood flows from the heart to the arteries, which branch and narrow into the arterioles, and then branch further still into the capillaries. After the tissue has been perfused, capillaries join and widen to become venules and then widen more to become veins, which return blood to the heart. Capillaries do not function on their own. The "capillary bed" is an interweaving network of capillaries supplying an organ. The more metabolically active the cells, the more capillaries they will require to supply nutrients and carry away waste products. A capillary bed can consist of two types of vessels: true capillaries which branch mainly from metarterioles and provide exchange between cells and the circulation. Secondly, capillary beds also consists of a vascular shunt which is a short vessel that directly connects the arteriole and venule at opposite ends of the bed. Metarterioles provide direct communication between arterioles and venules and are important in bypassing the bloodflow through the capillaries. The internal diameter of 8 μm forces the red blood cells to partially fold into bullet-like shapes and to go into single file in order for them to pass through. Precapillary sphincters are rings of smooth muscles at the origin of true capillaries that regulate blood flow into true capillaries and thus control blood flow through a tissue. [edit] Types

There are three types of capillaries:
• Continuous - They are continuous in the sense that the endothelial cells provide an uninterrupted lining, and only allow small molecules, like water and ions to diffuse through tight junctions which leave gaps of unjoined membrane which are called intercellular clefts. Tight junctions can be further divided into two subtypes: 1. Those with numerous transport vesicles that are primarily found in skeletal muscles, lungs, gonads, and skin. 2. Those with few vesicles that are primarily found in the central nervous system. These capillaries are a constituent of the blood-brain-barrier. • Fenestrated - Fenestrated capillaries (derived from "fenestra," Latin for "window") have pores in the endothelial cells (60-80 nm in diameter) that are spanned by a diaphragm of radially oriented fibrils and allow small molecules [2][3] and limited amounts of protein to diffuse. In the renal glomerulus there are larger fenestrae which have no diaphragms (although there are pedicels (podocyte foot processes) that have slit pores with an analogous function to the diaphragm of the capillaries). Both types of fenestrated blood vessels have continuous basal lamina...

References: 1. ^ From the Ancient Greek ἀρτηρία "windpipe, artery".
2. ^ MOMMA, UR; Jean Hopkins, Charles William McLaughlin, Susan Johnson, Maryanna Quon Warner, David LaHart, Jill D. Wright (1993). Human Biology and Health. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall. ISBN 0-13-981176-1. 
3. ^ Oxford English Dictionary.
4. ^ Shakespeare, William. Hamlet Complete, Authoritative Text with Biographical and Historical Contexts, Critical History, and Essays from Five Contemporary Critical Perspectives. Boston: Bedford Books of St. Martins Press, 1994. pg. 50.
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