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Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2002 Feb;282(2):H576-84.

Flow through internal elastic lamina affects shear stress on smooth muscle cells (3D simulations).

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  • 1Energy Phenomena Laboratory, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Science, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Tokyo 152-8859, Japan.


We describe a three-dimensional numerical simulation of interstitial flow through the medial layer of an artery accounting for the complex entrance condition associated with fenestral pores in the internal elastic lamina (IEL) to investigate the fluid mechanical environment around the smooth muscle cells (SMCs) right beneath the IEL. The IEL was modeled as an impermeable barrier to water flow except for the fenestral pores, which were assumed to be uniformly distributed over the IEL. The medial layer was modeled as a heterogeneous medium composed of a periodic array of cylindrical SMCs embedded in a continuous porous medium representing the interstitial proteoglycan and collagen matrix. Depending on the distance between the IEL bottom surface and the upstream end of the proximal layer of SMCs, the local shear stress on SMCs right beneath the fenestral pore could be more than 10 times higher than that on the cells far removed from the IEL under the conditions that the fenestral pore diameter and area fraction of pores were kept constant at 1.4 microm and 0.05, respectively. Thus these proximal SMCs may experience shear stress levels that are even higher than endothelial cells exposed to normal blood flow (order of 10 dyn/cm(2)). Furthermore, entrance flow through fenestral pores alters considerably the interstitial flow field in the medial layer over a spatial length scale of the order of the fenestral pore diameter. Thus the spatial gradient of shear stress on the most superficial SMC is noticeably higher than computed for endothelial cell surfaces.

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