Network Scale Modeling of Lymph Transport and Its Effective Pumping Parameters
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The lymphatic system is an open-ended network of vessels that run in parallel to the blood circulation system. These vessels are present in almost all of the tissues of the body to remove excess fluid. Similar to blood vessels, lymphatic vessels are found in branched arrangements. Due to the complexity of experiments on lymphatic networks and the difficulty to control the important functional parameters in these setups, computational modeling becomes an effective and essential means of understanding lymphatic network pumping dynamics. Here we aimed to determine the effect of pumping coordination in branched network structures on the regulation of lymph flow. Lymphatic vessel networks were created by building upon our previous lumped-parameter model of lymphangions in series. In our network model, each vessel is itself divided into multiple lymphangions by lymphatic valves that help maintain forward flow. Vessel junctions are modeled by equating the pressures and balancing mass flows. Our results demonstrated that a 1.5 s rest-period between contractions optimizes the flow rate. A time delay between contractions of lymphangions at the junction of branches provided an advantage over synchronous pumping, but additional time delays within individual vessels only increased the flow rate for adverse pressure differences greater than 10.5 cmH2O. Additionally, we quantified the pumping capability of the system under increasing levels of steady transmural pressure and outflow pressure for different network sizes. We observed that peak flow rates normally occurred under transmural pressures between 2 to 4 cmH2O (for multiple pressure differences and network sizes). Networks with 10 lymphangions per vessel had the highest pumping capability under a wide range of adverse pressure differences. For favorable pressure differences, pumping was more efficient with fewer lymphangions. These findings are valuable for translating experimental measurements from the single lymphangion level to tissue and organ scales.
author list (cited authors)
Jamalian, S., Davis, M. J., Zawieja, D. C., & Moore, J. E.