Structural Changes in Rat Aortic Intima Due to Transmural Pressure

[+] Author and Article Information
Y. Huang, S. Weinbaum

Department of Mechanical Engineering, The City College of the City University of New York, New York, NY 10031

K.-M. Jan

Department of Medicine, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032

D. Rumschitzki

Department of Chemical Engineering, The City College of the City University of New York, New York, NY 10031

J Biomech Eng 120(4), 476-483 (Aug 01, 1998) (8 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2798017 History: Received February 14, 1997; Revised February 07, 1998; Online October 30, 2007


Huang et al. (1997) propose a new hypothesis and develop a mathematical model to explain rationally the in vitro and in situ measured changes (Tedgui and Lever, 1984; Baldwin and Wilson, 1993) in the hydraulic conductivity of the artery wall of rabbit aorta with transmural pressure. The model leads to the intriguing prediction that this hydraulic conductivity would decrease by one half if the thin intimal layer between the endothelium and the internal elastic lamina volume-compresses approximately fivefold. This paper presents the first measurements of the effect of transmural pressure on intimal layer thickness and shows that the intimal matrix is, indeed, surprisingly compressible. We perfusion-fixed rat thoracic aortas in situ with 2 percent glutaraldehyde solution at 0, 50, 100, or 150 mm Hg lumen pressure and sectioned for light and electron microscopic observations. Electron micrographs show a dramatic, nonlinear decrease in average intimal thickness, i.e., 0.62 ± 0.26, 0.27 ± 0.14, 0.15 ± 0.10, and 0.12 ± 0.07 (SD) μm for 0, 50, 100, and 150 mm Hg lumen pressure, respectively. The volume strain of the intima is more than 20 times greater than the radial strain of the artery wall due to hoop tension and two orders of magnitude greater than the consolidation of the artery wall as a whole assuming constant medial density (Chuong and Fung, 1984). Moreover, in both light and electron microscopic observations, it is easy to find numerous sites where the endothelium puckers into the fenestral pores at high lumen pressure, as predicted by the theory in Huang et al. (1997). In contrast, the average diameter of a fenestral pore increases only 10 percent as the lumen pressure is increased from 0 to 150 mm Hg. These results indicate that the thin intimal layer comprising less than 1 percent of the wall thickness can have a profound effect on the filtration properties of the wall due to the large change in Darcy permeability of the layer and the large reduction in the entrance area of the flow entering the fenestral pores, though the pores themselves experience only a minor enlargement due to hoop tension.

Copyright © 1998 by The American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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