Arterial mechanical properties, pulsatile hemodynamic variables and mechanical vascular stresses vary significantly throughout the systemic arterial system. Although the fundamental principles governing pulsatile hemodynamics in elastic arteries are widely accepted, a set of rules governing stress-induced adaptation of mechanical properties can only be indirectly inferred from experimental studies. Previously-reported mathematical models have assumed mechanical properties adapt to achieve an assumed target stress "set point". Simultaneous prediction of the mechanical properties, hemodynamics, and stresses, however, requires that equilibrium stresses are not assumed a priori. Therefore, the purpose of this work was to use a "balance point" approach to identify the simplest set of universal adaptation rules that simultaneously predict observed mechanical properties, hemodynamics and stresses throughout the human systemic arterial system. First, we employed a classical systemic arterial system model with 121 arterial segments, and removed all parameter values except vessel lengths and peripheral resistances. We then assumed vessel radii increase with endothelial shear stress, wall thicknesses increase with circumferential wall stress, and material stiffnesses decrease with circumferential wall stress. Parameters characterizing adaptive responses were assumed to be identical in all arterial segments. Iteratively predicting local mechanical properties, hemodynamics and stresses reproduced five trends observed when traversing away from the aortic root towards the periphery: decrease in lumen radii, wall thicknesses, and pulsatile flows, and increase in wall stiffnesses and pulsatile pressures. The extraordinary complexity of the systemic arterial system can thus arise from independent adaptation of vessels to local stresses characterized by three simple adaptive rules.
- vascular adaptation
- endothelial shear stress
- circumferential wall stress
- Copyright © 2014, American Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology