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Two parts of the circulatory system function in


1) Cardiovascular or blood
circulatory system
– distributes blood throughout
the body.

2) Lymphatic system – collects

surplus tissue fluid as

• Essential requirements such as O2 &

nutrients are distributed in the blood,
w/c the heart pumps through the
body’s blood vessels.

• The heart is a dual combination of

circulation pumps belonging to
separate circuits & arranged side by

• Left side – receives blood from the lungs

& pumps it through the remainder of
the body, maintaining the systemic
• Right side – pumps blood through
the lungs, maintaining the
pulmonary circulation.

• Both sides of the heart have an

atrium that collects blood & a
ventricle that ejects it.

• The coordinated action of all 4

chambers enables the heart to
maintain these 2 circulations
• Blood ejected by the heart under substantial
hydrostatic pressure is distributed by a
branch system of thick-walled arteries, the
finest branches of which (arterioles) have a
proportionately narrow lumen.

• Mainly because blood acts as a viscous fluid,

the relatively narrow lumen of arterioles
reduces the hydrostatic pressure of blood
entering open capillaries.

• The thin fragile walls of capillaries facilitate

exchange of O2, nutrients, waste products, &
other substances between blood & tissue
• Capillaries also produce & can resorb tissue
fluid, & they facilitate O2 uptake & CO2
clearance from the lungs, nutrient absorption
from the intestine, & toxic waste excretion
from the kidneys.

• Blood flow through capillaries is regulated by

arterioles & also intermediate vessels called
metarterioles, which open into thin-walled
thoroughfare channels passes into thin-
walled venules, which resemble wide
• Venules lead into small veins, which open into
larger veins & so on.

• The largest veins return deoxygenated blood

to the heart.

• The arteries of the systemic circulation

distribute oxygenated blood, whereas the
pulmonary artery takes deoxygenated blood
to the lungs where it becomes reoxygented.
Blood Vessel & Heart Walls: General Organization

• The walls of the blood vessels, heart and

lymphatics are conventionally regarded as
being constructed of 3 coats or tunicae, as

1) Tunica Intima – the innermost coat.

- in blood vessels, it consists of:

a) a lining membrane (endothelium),

b) an underlying basement membrane,
c) a variable amount of subendothelial CT, &
d) an internal elastic lamina (layer of elastin)
- not present in some small vessels
- tunica intima of the heart is its lining, the
endocardium, w/c is made up primarily of
endothelium & CT of various kinds.

2) Tunica media – the middle coat.

- generally includes 2 components arranged
in concentric layers:

a) muscle fibers – w/c are smooth muscle

fibers in most blood vessels but cardiac
muscle fibers in the heart & certain of
its large associated vessels, and

b) elastin.
• Some small vessels, however, lack muscle
fibers & elastic laminae in their media.

• In the heart, coat is highly developed as the

myocardium (the substantial muscular layer
of the heart wall.

3) Tunica adventitia – outermost coat.

- predominantly loose CT, together w/ some
smooth muscle in certain large vessels.
- supplied by tiny blood vessels of its own
(vasa vasorum – L, vessels of the vessels),
w/c in some cases supply the outer part of
the media also.
• The tunica adventitia of the heart
(epicardium), meaning the covering of the
heart, & it consists of CT & a mesothelium.


• walls are made up chiefly of myocardium and


• the epicardium is commonly regarded as part

of the pericardium.

• muscular walls of the heart, representing the

tunica media, are primarily constructed of
cardiac muscle fibers.

• the endomysial loose CT that lies between the

muscle fibers supplies them w/ abundant
capillaries and also w/ lymphatics.

• lines the heart chambers and covers heart


• Endothelium, with its underlying basement

membrane & adjacent loose CT, lies at the
luminal surface of the endocardium.

• Deep to the loose CT lies a layer of dense

ordinary CT, & beneath this some fat cells
are generally present.

• made up of:

1) a layer of fibroelastic CT, w/ blood vessels,

lymphatics, nerve fibers, and a certain
amount of fat tissue, that merges w/ the
endomysium of the myocardium, and

2) a superficial mesothelial membrane

consisting of squamous epithelial cells.
Impulse-Conducting System of the Heart

- Plays a key role in coordinating cardiac


- It is a conduction pathway that consists

entirely of cardiac muscle cells, some
specialized for initiating the impulses for
contraction & others adapted for conducting
these impulses rapidly throughout the heart.
Sinoatrial Node

- Is a small mass of specialized cardiac muscle

fibers & associated fibroelastic CT.

- It lies in the wall of the superior vena cava,

close to the site where this borders on the
right atrium.

- Each wave of excitation eliciting a heartbeat

originates as a spontaneous depolarization
of cardiac muscle pacemaker cells in the
SA node.
- Frequency of SA nodal depolarization depends
on w/c of the autonomic divisions is supplying
efferent impulses.

- Each wave of depolarization that originates in

the SA node is conducted by way of gap
junctions along internodal atrial pathways &
spreads through ordinary atrial muscle fibers,
triggering their contraction.

- Muscle fibers of the SA node are somewhat

narrower than ordinary atrial fibers, & since
their role is to initiate & conduct impulses, not
to undergo strong contractions, they contain
fewer myofibrils.
Atrioventricular Node & AV Bundle

- Lies in the interatrial septum, near the

opening of the coronary sinus.

- When the wave of depolarization reaches

this node from the internodal pathways, it
is momentarily delayed by the nodal cells &
then conducted to the ventricles.

- From the AV node, the wave of

depolarization is conducted along a bundle
of specialized conducting cardiac muscle
fibers known as the AV bundle or bundle of
This part of the conduction path extends
anteriorly from the AV node, penetrates the
fibrous partition lying between atrial &
ventricular muscle, & enters the intervetricula
septum, where it divides into left & right

Roughly halfway down the septum, its two

branches become bundles of typical Purkinje
Purkinje Fibers

- of the heart lie in the deepest layers of the


- specialized conducting-fibers.

- Contain fewer myofibrils, & these have a

peripheral arrangement around the fiber’s
central sarcoplasmic core.

- This wide central core contains abundant

glycogen, giving the fiber a pale, empty look
except for central nuclei.
Cardiac Valves

- Each ventricle has inlet & outlet valves,

both of the flap (leaflet) type.

- The heart valve leaflet is an intimal sheet

w/ a core of irregular dense ordinary CT
that is mostly avascular.

- Elastic fibers are distributed

asymmetrically in the leaflet, and
endothelium covers its entire surface.
• Large & medium-sized blood vessels present
in sections are generally arteries or veins.

• These vessels are usually distinguishable by


1) wall thickness and

2) size & general shape of the lumen.

• Arterial lumen looks more or less round bec.

there is only a minor tendency for such thick-
walled vessels to collapse at death.
• Veins have relatively thin walls because they
have only to accommodate blood under
venous blood pressure.

• the relatively wide venous lumen tends to

flatten at death, when veins collapse because
the venous blood pressure drops.

• the three coats of the blood vessel wall are

not always discernible, but they are clearly
recognizable in muscular arteries.
Major function: distribution of blood from the
heart to the capillary beds of
the body.

3 major categories of vessels in the arterial system:

a) Muscular or medium-sized arteries

- are branches of the elastic arteries and

constitute the great majority of the
arteries in the body.
• outer border of the media is indicated by the
external elastic lamina, w/c is a somewhat
less conspicuous fenestrated layer of elastin.

• thickness of the adventitia varies, but in many

cases it is comparable to the thickness of the

• adventitia consists chiefly of elastic fibers,

together w/ some collagen.

- it is provided w/ vasa vasorum that

commonly extend into the periphery of the
media & supply this as well. Lymphatics are
b) Elastic Arteries – include the aorta & its
major branches.

• Stretch is maximal in the aorta & pulmonary

artery (elastic arteries), i.e., both of the great
arteries conveying blood from the heart.

• This is because their walls consist primarily of


• blood flow is regulated by luminal diameter of

these arteries. (hormones & other factors)
- presence of increased amounts of elastic
fibers in their walls allows them to expand
during heart contraction (systole) &
ejection of the blood into their lumina this
effect forces the blood to move forward
through the vascular channels & maintains
the necessary arterial

- Also, as a result of the elastic fibers in the

walls, the arteries maintain a less variable
blood pressure & a more even blood flow
during the heart cycle.
Main fxn: to transport the blood from the
heart & move it along the vascular path.

As a result of the increased amount of

smooth muscles in their walls, these
arteries control the blood flow & blood
pressure through vasoconstriction or
vasodilation of their lumina.
• intima = substantially thicker than that seen
in muscular arteries.

- of the aorta accounts for about one quarter

of the thickness of the whole wall.

- in H&E-stained sections, it appears paler

than the media.

- many fenestrated elastic laminae & elastic

fibers are present in the so-called sub-
endothelial layer between the endothelium
& the internal elastic lamina.

- intimal cells are mostly smooth muscle cells

that produced the interstitial matrix of the
vessel, but some fibroblasts also are
• internal elastic lamina that delineates the
periphery of the intima is less conspicuous
than in muscular arteries.

• Thick media – constitutes the major part of

the aortic wall.
- consists primarily of a great many
fenestrated elastic laminae that become
increasingly numerous w/ age.

• outer half to two thirds of the media is

supplied by vasa vasorum, the inner third or
so of the media, & all of the intima, depend
on diffusion of O2 & nutrients from the lumen.
• thin adventitia consists largely
of elastic & collagen fibers.

- provided with lymphatic

capillaries as well as vasa
c. Arterioles - the smallest arterial vessels

- their walls consist of 1 – 5 layers of

smooth muscle

- by constricting or dilating their lumen,

they regulate the flow of blood into
the capillary beds.

- the terminal arterioles give rise to

• In distinguishing these vessels from small
muscular arteries, it is helpful to remember
that the wall of an arteriole is thick relative
to the diameter of the lumen & appears
almost as wide as the lumen.

• intima = consists of the endothelium & its

basement membrane w/ an apposed
internal elastic lamina.
• media = represented by only 1 or 2 layers of
smooth muscle cells (the easiest way
to recognize an arteriole!), together
w/ an inconspicuous external elastic
• adventitia = contains a few elastic & collagen

• internal & external elastic laminae are

lacking in the smallest arterioles supplying
blood to capillaries.
Smallest blood vessels in the body.

Average diameter of their lumina is

about 8 um, which almost equals the
size of the RBCs.
3 types of capillaries:

1. Continuous capillaries - the most common

type & are found in the connective tissue,
all muscle tissue, the CNS, & other organs.

- Are continuous in the sense that the

cytoplasm of their endothelial cells
constitutes an uninterrupted
(i.e., unfenestrated) lining.

- This is the common type of capillary that

characterizes most body tissues.
2. Fenestrated capillaries - allows a more rapid
exchange of molecular substances between
blood & tissues.

- Are more permeable because the endothelial

cell cytoplasm is perforated by circular

- primarily found in the endocrine organs, the

small intestine, & the glomerulus of the
3. Sinusoids - found in the liver, spleen, &
bone marrow

- Are thin-walled, capillary-like venous

blood vessels that have an unusually
wide lumen & an associated population
of macrophages.
Are classified as small, medium & large.

Are generally more numerous & have

thinner walls & larger diameters than
the arteries.

Blood pressure is lower than in the


= as a result, blood flow in the veins is

• wide lumen that generally appears
flattened in sections.

• internal & external elastic laminae are

poorly represented here & hence
inconspicuous in veins.
Wall structures of veins varies in the ff aspects:

Small & medium-sized veins

• thin intima consists of an endothelium, its

thin basement membrane, & only a trace of
underlying CT w/ a very meager internal
elastic lamina.

• media = much thinner than that of the


• in most veins, the media consists of a few

circular layers of smooth muscle
interspersed w/ collagen & elastic fibers.
• However, cerebral, dural, & certain other
veins lack smooth muscle cells in their

• In contrast, certain veins of the limbs,

notably the superficial veins of the legs, have
a thick muscular media that resist the
distension resulting from venous return
against gravity.

• the thickest coat of veins is their adventitia,

made up of wide collagen fibers & elastic
fibers, fibroblasts, & smooth muscle cells.
Large Veins

• intima = is similar to that of other veins, w/

an incomplete internal elastic lamina

• media = contains a few circular layers of

smooth muscle but in general is
poorly developed.

• adventitia = the thickest coat; contains

longitudinal bundles of collagen fibers
along with some elastic fibers, smooth
muscle cells, & fibroblasts. (well-
developed of the inferior vena cava)
Walls of large vessels are too thick to receive
nourishment by direct diffusion from the
lumen. As a result, the walls of these vessels
have their own small vessels called vasa
vasorum (vessels of the vessel).

- More extensive in veins than in arteries.