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A simplified model of TIRF optics was used to quantitate the relative membrane/substratum separation distances from the spatial pattern of TIRF image brightness. Phase-contrast and total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy (TIRFM) images were collected of bovine aortic endothelial cells (BAEC) plated onto glass microscope slides for 15 min, 30 min and 24 h. BAEC adherent for 15 min showed an absence of a focal contact morphology, with the region of closest apposition beneath the cellpmid:1478950 fatcat:eintpenhxnbhtjyscr3qevltxq