Microvasculature refers to the large network of arterioles (smallest arteries), capillaries, and venules (smallest veins) in the body. This network of branching blood vessels makes up the largest and most important part of the circulatory system. The microvasculature is present in every part of the body and has a wide variety of important functions that sustain life, repair damage and regulate the human body. It is within these microscopic structures that the oxygen we breathe and the nutrients from the food we eat gets delivered throughout our body for consumption by the tissues and organs.
The functions of the microvasculature include:
Oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange
Delivery of nutrients
Storage of blood (capacitance)
There is an intimate relationship between a tissue or an organ and its microcirculation. The microscopic arteries and veins will respond very quickly to needs of the tissue they serve. Some capillary beds, like those in the skin, can expand a thousandfold when necessary. The functions of the microcirculation are managed both at the local level and at the whole body level. This means the tissue itself can act locally to enhance or diminish microcirculation function.« Back to Glossary Index