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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Arteriola \Ar*te`ri*o"la\, Arteriole \Ar*te"ri*ole\, n. [NL. arteriola, dim. of L. arteria: cf. F. art['e]riole.] A small artery with a muscular wall.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

"small artery," by 1808, from Modern Latin arteriola, diminutive of arteria (see artery).


n. (context anatomy English) One of the small branches of an artery, especially one that connects with capillary.


n. one of the small thin-walled arteries that end in capillaries [syn: arteriola, capillary artery]


An arteriole is a small diameter blood vessel in the microcirculation that extends and branches out from an artery and leads to capillaries.

Arterioles have muscular walls (usually only one to two layers of smooth muscle) and are the primary site of vascular resistance. The greatest change in blood pressure and velocity of blood flow occurs at the transition of arterioles to capillaries. The decreased velocity of flow in the capillaries increases the blood pressure, due to Bernoulli's principle. This induces gas and nutrients to move from the blood to the cells, due to the lower osmotic pressure outside of the capillary. The opposite process occurs when the blood leaves the capillaries and enters the venules, where the blood pressure drops due to an increase in flow rate. Arterioles receive autonomic nervous system innervation and respond to various circulating hormones in order to regulate their diameter. Retinal vessels lack a functional sympathetic innervation. Further local responses to stretch, carbon dioxide, pH, and oxygen also influence arteriolar tone. Generally, norepinephrine and epinephrine (hormones produced by sympathetic nerves and the adrenal gland medulla) are vasoconstrictive acting on alpha 1-adrenergic receptors. However, the arterioles of skeletal muscle, cardiac muscle, and pulmonary circulation vasodilate in response to these hormones when they act on beta-adrenergic receptors. Generally, stretch and high oxygen tension increase tone, and carbon dioxide and low pH promote vasodilation. Pulmonary arterioles are a noteworthy exception as they vasodilate in response to high oxygen. Brain arterioles are particularly sensitive to pH with reduced pH promoting vasodilation. A number of hormones influence arteriole tone such as angiotensin II (vasoconstrictive), endothelin (vasoconstrictive), bradykinin (vasodilation), atrial natruretic peptide (vasodilation), and prostacyclin (vasodilation).

Blood pressure in the arteries supplying the body is a result of the work needed to pump the cardiac output (the flow of blood pumped by the heart) through the vascular resistance, usually termed total peripheral resistance by physicians and researchers. An increase in the media to lumenal diameter ratio has been observed in hypertensive arterioles ( arteriolosclerosis) as the vascular wall thickens and/or lumenal diameter decreases.

Usage examples of "arteriole".

If this arteriole offset was actually present, his fingers would have dropped off years ago.

The wall of the arteriole had been abraded by the injury and was not entirely blocked by the clot which embraced the section of nerve fibers and cells tightly.

Physostigmine, indeed, stimulates nearly all the non-striped muscles in the body, and this action upon the muscular coats of the arteries, and especially of the arterioles, causes a great rise in blood-pressure shortly after its absorption, which is very rapid.

The surgeon laser-cauterized the tiny arterioles that fed the chip with blood and kept its deteriorating organic parts alive, and swiftly burnt through the cilia-like array of neural connectors, finer than spider silk, across the chip's surface.

Neovascularization has covered her body with giant pulsing arterioles.

If you put them into reverse, we will just back out of this capillary and eventually -- not a very long eventually, either -- we will be back at the junction point and in the arteriole again.