Model of structural and functional adaptation of small conductance vessels to arterial hypotension.
Additional Document Info
Vascular networks adapt structurally in response to local pressure and flow and functionally in response to the changing needs of tissue. Whereas most research has either focused on adaptation of the macrocirculation, which primarily transports blood, or the microcirculation, which primarily controls flow, the present work addresses adaptation of the small conductance vessels in between, which both conduct blood and resist flow. A simple hemodynamic model is introduced consisting of three parts: 1) bifurcating arterial and venous trees, 2) an empirical description of the microvasculature, and 3) a target shear stress depending on pressure. This simple model has the minimum requirements to explain qualitatively the observed structure in normotensive conditions. It illustrates that flow regulation in the microvasculature makes adaptation in the larger conductance vessels stable. Furthermore, it suggests that structural changes in response to hypotension can account for the observed decrease in the lower limit of autoregulation in chronically hypotensive vasculature. Independent adaptation to local conditions thus yields a coordinated set of structural changes that ultimately adapts supply to demand.