This primo vascular system (as in Bong Han Vessels which compose the body’s meridian system) has yet to make its way into anatomy or physiology textbooks. Nevertheless, if you have a microscope capable of high level imaging, you can learn the work of Dr. Keiichi Morishita from Japan to see remnants of this system in the blood.
For the 2019 workshop season, we introduced the work of Dr. Keiichi Morishita and his identification of Bong Han vessels – or what is now called the primo vascular system (PVS) – in peripheral blood as seen under the microscope.
THE PRIMO VASCULAR SYSTEM
One key reason for the omission of this system from anatomy and physiology textbooks is it generally has to be seen it in the living state and anatomy is often based on findings from cadavers. But through confocal laser microscopy of living tissue, low and behold, there is now validation and corroboration for this vascular system first discovered and written about in the early 1960s by Bong Han Kim of North Korea.
Actually, this system was likely discovered by the Chinese over 2000 years ago when they used water filled tubes with a lens as a crude microscope. It’s entirely possible they validated and further defined the acupuncture points and meridians they used in their system of medicine.
This primo vascular system is fluid filled, and is a large source of stem cells. It has terminating nodes at many skin sites (which are the acupuncture points), and it plays an active role in hematopoiesis. This ‘newly discovered’ vascular system is indeed the physical component of the meridian system itself.
Because this system can run through lymphatic and blood vessels, remnants of this system can be seen in blood under the microscope.
What has been often referred to as artifacts, or diaphanous protoplast formations, or plaques, or the ‘fibrous thallus’ of Gaston Naessens, are actually remnants of the Bong Han vessels or PVS.
Dr. Morishita was and still is using phase contract microscopy to identify these forms.
I want to lay out some of the ways we can manipulate the light on our microscopes to further identify these PVS forms and tubules, but first a quick rundown on three lighting techniques for viewing live specimens.
PHASE CONTRAST MICROSCOPY
Phase contrast was invented in the 1950s. It was an exciting development in the microscope arena as it gave the ability to shade specimens from black to white and highlight certain morphologies darkfield doesn’t do very well.
In the ‘live blood analysis’ arena darkfield microscopy gained a cult like following among some practitioners that persists to this day. This was due in large measure through creative marketing by current day instructors who used the pre phase contrast words of earlier researchers that this or that form in the blood “could only be seen in darkfield.” But this was only true prior to the invention of phase contrast.
Some sellers of microscope systems that were targeting the live blood market did not always use the top tier name brand manufacturers and many of those don’t execute phase contrast very well.
Darkfield on the other hand can be done by almost any manufacturer at an okay level if they have a powerful enough light source and better ones would use cardioid oil darkfield condensers.
WHAT IS A MICROSCOPE CONDENSER?
It is the lens assembly that sits just below the slide specimen on a microscope stage which ‘condenses’ the light in various ways to give you different lighting and viewing perspectives.
THE BEST DARKFIELD CONDENSERS
These would be the cardioid condensers, but you won’t find it on many darkfield microscopes today including those sold exclusively for ‘live blood analysis’. These condensers offer the best darkfield and are of the type sold on our earlier Olympus systems.
If you flipped the condenser over and looked at the bottom you would note it has a small mirror ball reflector right in the center. This mirror ball reflects the light out to a circular mirrored edge which then transmits the light from all sides onto the specimen.
With many darkfield condensers you won’t find a mirror ball, instead you will see a glass lens with a circular ring around a black spot. That spot prevents light from coming directly onto a specimen and it provides the dark field where light highlights the specimen from the edges.
This type of condenser is called a darkfield stop condenser. It is not the best, but with good light and oil, it will do okay.
THE UNIVERSAL MULTI-MODE TURRET CONDENSER
These were the condensers most often used in our older microscopes and are now fitted permanently onto all of our new microscopes. It is multi mode from the standpoint that you can rotate a turret and it puts in place the appropriate fixture to deliver a brightfield view, phase contrast view, and darkfield view, by simply rotating what you want to see into place.
MODULATION CONTRAST 3D
Modulation in a general sense denotes a tempering or a change in pitch, or frequency, or light. In our case it will be a change in the direction of the light that is coming into and exiting the condenser.
Contrast is the ability to compare the light on the specimen from one area to another in order to show unlikeness or differences or contours of in the specimen.
3D refers to a 3 dimensional like image and it is the perspective the modulation contrast delivers.
HOW WE GET A 3D VIEW WITH OUR MICROSCOPES?
It is very simple. Our turret condenser rotates to give you different lighting capability.
When the turret condenser says DF, it is in darkfield mode. Because it is impossible to develop a multi-mode turret condenser with a cardioid-like mirror ball to provide the highest level of darkfield, the default method is to use a darkfield stop. We manipulate that stop to modulate the light.
When the condenser is sitting in DF mode and you have a darkfield view, you can shift the turret just slightly off the DF indent position. What this does is change the path of the light into the condenser lens from around the stop and it angles further to one side or another. Voila, you are modulating the light by slightly rotating the turret.
As the light cascades over the specimen from a more singular direction, contrast differences appear more evident and you can see contours more clearly and it provides a 3 dimensional perspective.
It is this modulated contrast 3D perspective where you will find some interesting viewpoints when looking at your fibrous thallus, or protoplast, or artifact or whatever you might call these elements which are not discussed in standard hematology.
And that brings us back to…
BONG HAN VESSELS UNDER THE MICROSCOPE
It was in the last workshop I discovered the power of modulation contrast 3D as we can easily do with our turret condensers.
We were looking at an element in someone’s blood during lab. For many it would have been dispensed with as simply an artifact. But with the work of Dr. Morishita and his phase contrast earlobe peripheral blood technique, a lot more light has been shed on what we might be seeing.
So, it was with that thought that we examined the specimen before us in more detail. We viewed it in phase contrast, then viewed it in darkfield, and then shifted the turret to modulate the light for an enhanced contrast 3D view.
And whoa, we could delineate definite tubes within tubes in our specimen. It was apparent we were viewing a tubular thing. It had every appearance of being a vesicular structure.
Dr. Morishita coined the phrase “Bong pha blood vessel.” This is a deeply fundamental formation of vessels the makeup of which includes the Bong han vessel, plus lymph vessel, plus blood vessel.
Laser confocal microscopy mentioned earlier done with special staining is confirming these vessels can run together. How it ends up in the peripheral blood where it can be detected is another story but being able to see it so clearly with our microscopes was very exciting.
And there is another great thing from a practical perspective that is well worth noting, we did not have to use a single drop of immersion oil at all with our condenser or objectives to accomplish this.
DO YOU HAVE 3D ON YOUR SCOPE?
If you have a current Biomedx configured Olympus microscope with the turret condesner you have this capacity right now. Next time you are looking at a diaphanous plaque-like particle, check it out with this technique. You might find some interesting tubular vessel contours.
If you don’t have this type of multi-mode condenser system that doesn’t require immersion oil to see what you want, you might want to think about upgrading to one of our new microscopes.
One word fits our new scopes perfectly, they are – awesome.