Measurement of endothelial permeability to 125I-low density lipoproteins in rabbit arteries by use of en face preparations.
A procedure of en face quantitative autoradiography of the endothelium (Hautchen preparations) was developed to examine regional variations in 125I-low density lipoprotein (125I-LDL) permeability in the arterial wall in vivo. Endothelial preparations from fixed arterial tissue and calibration standards consisting of known concentrations of 125I-albumin were dipped in nuclear emulsion, exposed for 1-3 months, developed, and stained with hematoxylin. Digital image analysis was used to analyze dark-field images of autoradiographs. Background grain densities on cold endothelial preparations were 30-100% higher than on glass, but the variability in grain densities on the two different surfaces was similar. Regression slopes of grain density versus concentration for calibration standards were the same for sections placed on cold tissue or glass. For 1-5-microns-thick calibration standards of the same concentration, the grain density was proportional to the total amount of radioactivity per unit area. The results indicated that errors arising from nonuniformities in preparation thickness were minimal, and permeabilities and intimal concentrations could be determined. Rabbits were killed 10 minutes after injection of 125I-LDL, and endothelial preparations were made. For regions of uniformly low grain density in the rabbit aorta, the 125I-LDL permeability was 1.9 +/- 0.8 x 10(-8) cm/sec, and the effective diffusion coefficient was 5.4 +/- 3.1 x 10(-10) cm2/sec. Errors in the estimated permeability arising from nonuniformities in tissue thickness were the same as the reported experimental variability. Analysis of elevated regions of permeability suggested that 125I-LDL was binding to the extracellular matrix. Approximately 25% of the sites of elevated grain density were associated with mitotic endothelial cells, and such regions had higher permeabilities than sites associated with nonmitotic cells. Around intercostal arteries, sites of highest permeability were distal and lateral to the vessels and occurred where lesions first develop in hypercholesterolemic rabbits.