A rhesus macaque cortical microvessel stained for focal adhesion kinase (green), zonula occludens 1 (red) and endothelial nuclei (blue). Image by Nathan S. Ivey, PhD and Andrew MacLean, PhD.
Transmission electron microscope image of a capillary with a red blood cell within the pancreas. The capillary lining consists of long, thin endothelial cells, connected by tight junctions.
Microvessel or microvasculature refers to the smallest systems of blood vessels in a body, including those responsible for microcirculation, the system of smaller blood vessels that distribute blood within tissues. Common examples of microvessels include:
- Arterioles, a small diameter blood vessel that extends and branches out from an artery and leads to capillaries
- Capillaries, the smallest blood vessels
- Metarterioles, a vessel that links arterioles and capillaries
- Venules, a blood vessel that allows deoxygenated blood to return from the capillary beds to the larger blood vessels called veins
- Thoroughfare channel, a venous vessel receiving blood directly from capillary beds. It is a tributary to venules