We have used confocal and widefield microscopy to image thrombus formation in real time in the microcirculation of a living mouse. This system provides high-speed, near-simultaneous acquisition of images of multiple fluorescent probes and of a brightfield channel. Vascular injury is induced with a laser focused through the microscope optics. We observed platelet deposition, tissue factor accumulation and fibrin generation after laser-induced endothelial injury in a single developing thrombus. The initiation of blood coagulation in vivo entailed the initial accumulation of tissue factor on the upstream and thrombus–vessel wall interface of the developing thrombus. Subsequently tissue factor was associated with the interior of the thrombus. Tissue factor was biologically active, and was associated with fibrin generation within the thrombus.
2002 Nature Publishing Group http://www.nature.com/naturemedicine