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Distinguish between elastic arteries, muscular arteries, and arterioles relative to location, histology, and functional adaptations

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If this is for a bio class, then it should be in your textbook and I'm wondering why you haven't just opened that up, because it is in there...

Anyway, here is a basic overview:

  There are three types of arterial blood vessels: (1) elastic arteries, (2) muscular arteries, and (3) arterioles.


Elastic arteries

Elastic arteries are the largest arteries in the body (e.g., the aorta and pulmonary artery). Because they receive a bolus of blood ejected at high pressure from the ventricles, the walls of these vessels need to be able to stretch and recoil under such pressure.  Accordingly, the walls contain many elastic laminae. 



Muscular arteries

The major function of the muscular or distributing arteries is to transport blood to the various parts of the body. These vessels arise from the elastic arteries which, in turn, arise from the ventricles.  The muscular arteries are so named because they contain a thick layer of smooth muscle circularly arranged around the lumen.  This smooth muscle layer is innervated by postganglionic sympathetic nerve fibers, so that the luminal diameter can be controlled by sympathetic nerve impulses.  Actually, the nerve fibers rarely penetrate into the muscle layer, but are instead situated in the adventitia.  The neurotransmitters released from the sympathetic nerve endings diffuse into the media to cause smooth muscle contraction.  





The smallest arterial vessels are the arterioles, which regulate blood flow to the capillaries.  Moreover, the regulation of tonus in the smooth muscle layer of these vessels is the primary determinant of systemic blood pressure .  Similar to the muscular arteries, the arterioles are innervated by postganglionic sympathetic fibers.  Generally, the luminal diameter of these vessels is about the same as the wall thickness.



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