A multiscale sliding filament model of lymphatic muscle pumping. Academic Article uri icon


  • The lymphatics maintain fluid balance by returning interstitial fluid to veins via contraction/compression of vessel segments with check valves. Disruption of lymphatic pumping can result in a condition called lymphedema with interstitial fluid accumulation. Lymphedema treatments are often ineffective, which is partially attributable to insufficient understanding of specialized lymphatic muscle lining the vessels. This muscle exhibits cardiac-like phasic contractions and smooth muscle-like tonic contractions to generate and regulate flow. To understand the relationship between this sub-cellular contractile machinery and organ-level pumping, we have developed a multiscale computational model of phasic and tonic contractions in lymphatic muscle and coupled it to a lymphangion pumping model. Our model uses the sliding filament model (Huxley in Prog Biophys Biophys Chem 7:255-318, 1957) and its adaptation for smooth muscle (Mijailovich in Biophys J 79(5):2667-2681, 2000). Multiple structural arrangements of contractile components and viscoelastic elements were trialed but only one provided physiologic results. We then coupled this model with our previous lumped parameter model of the lymphangion to relate results to experiments. We show that the model produces similar pressure, diameter, and flow tracings to experiments on rat mesenteric lymphatics. This model provides the first estimates of lymphatic muscle contraction energetics and the ability to assess the potential effectsof sub-cellular level phenomena such as calcium oscillations on lymphangion outflow. The maximum efficiency value predicted (40%) is at the upper end of estimates for other muscle types. Spontaneous calcium oscillations during diastole were found to increase outflow up to approximately 50% in the range of frequencies and amplitudes tested.

published proceedings

  • Biomech Model Mechanobiol

author list (cited authors)

  • Morris, C. J., Zawieja, D. C., & Moore, J. E.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Morris, Christopher J||Zawieja, David C||Moore, James E

publication date

  • December 2021