Transparent window (chamber) models are widely used in microcirculation research. Because window models allow direct optical access without further surgical manipulation, they are especially useful for long-term monitoring of microcirculation by intravital microscopy. These techniques allow us to dissect physiological and pathophysiological processes during blood and lymph angiogenesis, wound healing, tissue engineering, tumor growth, and various therapies. The rabbit ear chamber, the rodent dorsal skin chamber, and the cranial window are the most commonly used window models. In addition, windows for various organs have been or are being designed. The continuing development of window models, along with progress in imaging techniques, analysis algorithms, molecular probes, and genetically engineered animals, increases the variety, accuracy, and efficacy of our data collection and further expands our knowledge of microcirculation.


Cranial window: A transparent window in cranium of an animal.

Dorsal skin chamber: A transparent window model in dorsal skin of an animal.

Intravital microscopy: Microscopy technique for in situ observation of a living tissue.

Rabbit ear chamber: A transparent window model in a rabbit ear.

Transparent window (chamber) model: An animal model typically consists of a frame (e.g., titanium, mold, endogenous bone), a transparent window (e.g., glass, mica, quartz, acryl), and a tissue of interest.


Ishikawa, M., Sekizuka, E., Sato, S., Yamaguchi, N., Shimizu, K.,

Kobayashi, K., Bertalanffy, H., and Kawase, T. (1999). In vivo rat closed spinal window for spinal microcirculation: Observation of pial vessels, leukocyte adhesion, and red blood cell velocity. Neurosurgery 44, 156-161. Detailed description of the spinal window model.

Jain, R. K., Brown, E. B., Munn, L. L., and Fukumura, D. (2004). Intravital microscopy of normal and diseased tissues in the mouse. In Live Cell Imaging: A Laboratory Manual. Cold Spring Harbor, NY: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, in press. Comprehensive review article with detailed procedures including window models and intravital microscopy.

Jain, R. K., Munn, L. L., and Fukumura, D. (2002). Dissecting tumour pathophysiology by intravital microscopy. Nat. Rev. Cancer 2, 266-276. Comprehensive review article on the use of window models and intravital microscopy for tumor study.

Jain, R. K., Schlenger, K., Hockel, M., and Yuan, F. (1997). Quantitative angiogenesis assays: Progress and problems. Nat. Med. 3, 1203-1208. Comprehensive review article on the method of angiogenesis assay.

Kuhnle, G. E., Leipfinger, F. H., and Goetz, A. E. (1993). Measurement of microhemodynamics in the ventilated rabbit lung by intravital microscopy. J. Applied Physiol. 74, 1462-1471. Detailed description of the rabbit lung window model.

Leunig, M., Yuan, F., Menger, M. D., Boucher, Y., Goetz, A. E., Messmer, K., and Jain, R. K. (1992). Angiogenesis, microvascular architecture, microhemodynamics, and interstitial fluid pressure during early growth of human adenocarcinoma LS174T in SCID mice. Cancer Res. 52, 6553-6560. Detailed description of the dorsal skin chamber model.

Shan, S., Sorg, B., and Dewhirst, M. W. (2003). A novel rodent mammary window of orthotopic breast cancer for intravital microscopy.

Microvasc. Res. 65, 109-117. Detailed description of the mammary window model.

Winet, H. (1989). A horizontal intravital microscope-plus-bone chamber system for observing bone microcirculation. Microvasc. Res. 37, 105-114. Detailed description of the rabbit bone chamber model. Yuan, F., Salehi, H. A., Boucher, Y., Vasthare, U. S., Tuma, R. F., and Jain, R. K. (1994). Vascular permeability and microcirculation of gliomas and mammary carcinomas transplanted in rat and mouse cranial window. Cancer Res. 54, 4564-4568. Detailed description of the cranial window model.

Zawicki, D. F., Jain, R. K., Schmid-Schoenbein, G. W., and Chien, S. (1981). Dynamics of neovasculaization in normal tissue. Microvasc. Res. 21, 27-47. Detailed description of the rabbit ear chamber model.

Capsule Biography

Dai Fukumura, M.D., Ph.D. (Associate Professor, Edwin L. Steele Laboratory, Department of Radiation Oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School), is a research scientist in the field of cancer and vascular biology. He has documented expertise in various animal window models and intravital microscopy. His current research interests include the role of nitric oxide in angiogenesis and microcirculation, the role of host-tumor interactions in tumor angiogenesis, growth, and metastasis, and the mechanism of vessel maturation.

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