Objective: Conventionally, in vivo mesenteric lymphatic contractile function is measured using a high magnification transmission microscope (field of view 0.3–1.5 mm), which precludes visualization of extended lengths of vessels embedded in mesenteric fat. Existing software is not optimized for imaging at a low magnification using a contrast agent. We aimed to develop a simple and clinically transferable method for in situ visualization, image analysis, and quantitative assessment of mesenteric lymphatic contractile function over an extended area.
Methods: Subserosal injection of various blue dyes was taken up by mesenteric lymphatics and visualized under a stereomicroscope (25×), allowing for video recording of 1.4 × 1.1 cm of intact mesentery. A new R package (“vmeasur”) that combines multiple high-performance image analyses into a single workflow was developed. The edges of each vessel were determined by applying an automated threshold to each frame (with real-time manual verification). The vessel width at every point in each frame was plotted to provide contractile parameters over time and along the lymphatic vessel length.
Results: Contractile parameters and their differences along the length of the vessel were accurately calculated in a rodent model. In a human mesenteric lymphatic, the algorithm was also able to measure changes in diameter over length.
Conclusion: This software offers a low cost, rapid, and accessible method to measure lymphatic contractile function over a wide area, showing differences in contractility along the length of a vessel. Because the presence of mesenteric fat has less of an impact on imaging, due to the use of an exogenous contrast agent, there is potential for clinical application.
- contractile function