To investigate the dynamic behavior of the aorta of freely moving rats during the maintenance of hypertension, a longitudinal study was performed in renal hypertensive (Goldblatt 1 kidney, 1 clip) rats aged 3, 6, and 9 mo in which hypertension was maintained for 1, 3, and 6 mo, respectively. The pulsatile caliber of the thoracic aorta was measured (electrolytic strain gauge chronically implanted) simultaneously with aortic pressure under basal conditions and during transient changes of blood pressure. Aortic thickness was determined postmortem by morphometry. Establishment of hypertension (179 +/- 5 mmHg) by increasing the stress developed by the aorta caused increases in the resting values of caliber (20%), thickness (21%), and strain (95%); the maintenance of hypertension for a 6-mo period caused a further increase in thickness (58% vs. age-matched normotensive aortas) but not in aortic caliber and strain, the subsequent alterations of which were due only to growth/aging. Although different calibers, thicknesses, and dynamic strains were presented, the stress-strain relationship during transient blood pressure changes was similar for all hypertensive and normotensive groups with the exception of renal hypertensive rats aged 6 mo, which presented a steeper relationship (a large transitory increase in aortic distensibility was observed at that age). Dynamic adaptive responses of the aorta to hypertension compensate for geometric changes in such a way as to maintain a near-constant distensibility. It was concluded that, in contrast to the extrathoracic vessels, the adaptive responses of the aorta to hypertension were directed to maintain its compliance without changing the distensibility and stress-strain relationship, contributing to partially counterbalance the increased pressure and the decreased compliance of the more peripheral components of the arterial tree.
- Copyright © 1997 the American Physiological Society