The ascending aorta of the hooded seal is about 3-5mm thick. Microscopic images taken in the study showed openings to the vasa vasorum from the lumen of the aorta that extend into a network of tiny blood vessels on the external surface. This network of blood vessels appears to be important in supplying nutrients and oxygen to the thick wall of the aorta. It is unknown whether a similar vasa vasorum network is present in humans. If so, disorders such as atherosclerosis may block the openings to these vessels and thus contribute to oxygen deprivation of the vessel wall and possibly the development of aneurysms.
Blix AS, Kuttner S, Messelt EB. The ascending aorta of hooded seals with particular emphasis on its vasa vasorum. American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology. [Epub ahead of print] doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.00070.2016.
Categories: Comparative Physiology