Microparticle image velocimetry approach to flow measurements in isolated contracting lymphatic vessels.
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We describe the development of an optical flow visualization method for resolving the flow velocity vector field in lymphatic vessels in vitro. The aim is to develop an experimental protocol for accurately estimating flow parameters, such as flow rate and shear stresses, with high spatial and temporal resolution. Previous studies in situ have relied on lymphocytes as tracers, but their low density resulted in a reduced spatial resolution whereas the assumption that the flow was fully developed in order to determine the flow parameters of interest may not be valid, especially in the vicinity of the valves, where the flow is undoubtedly more complex. To overcome these issues, we have applied the time-resolved microparticle image velocimetry ( -PIV) technique, a well-established method that can provide increased spatial and temporal resolution that this transient flow demands. To that end, we have developed a custom light source, utilizing high-power light-emitting diodes, and associated control and image processing software. This paper reports the performance of the system and the results of a series of preliminary experiments performed on vessels isolated from rat mesenteries, demonstrating, for the first time, the successful application of the -PIV technique in these vessels.