Arterial wall mechanics and vascular remodeling

Contributors: Aristotelis Agianniotis, Nikos Stergiopulos (group leader)

External collaborators: Prof. A. Rachev, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences

Stresses within the arterial wall are implicated in a number of important physiopathological processes. Challenges in analyzing local wall stresses derive from the fact that the wall is an active, non-homogeneous, multi-layered structure. During disease, ageing or remodeling, in general, the active part of the wall (VSM) is functionally altered and the synthesis of new material may change the elastic and structural characteristics of the wall.  A number of important questions still remain unanswered with respect to how stress is mechanotransduced by VSM and translated thereof to biological signals. An important part of these unknown aspects is still attributed to our lack of knowledge on how stresses are distributed among the different structural elements of the wall. This lack of basic knowledge is further accentuated when considering the biomechanical properties and structural contribution of VSM. Yet, as mentioned above, VSM is the effecter element for many stress‐driven remodeling and other pathological processes.

To that effect, part of the research is devoted in augmenting our understanding of the contribution of VSM in the biomechanical properties of the arterial wall. Major effort is also put in developing and further refining our constituent‐based models of the arterial wall, which would allow us to assess the biomechanical role of each wall constituent and derive its functional contribution to stiffness, stability, stress‐bearing and its role in the remodeling process under physiological or pathological conditions. Pathological conditions of particular interest to us are aortic wall remodeling in hypertension and during aging.