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J Vasc Res. 2001 Jan-Feb;38(1):1-12.

Location of resistance arteries.

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Department of Pharmacology, University of Aarhus, Denmark.


Thickening and narrowing of resistance arteries must, by definition, be key elements in the control of the cardiovascular system. However, the precise location of resistance arteries is difficult to establish. This is due to technical problems related to the small size of the vessels, to the measurement conditions disturbing the hemodynamics, and to the status of the animals while the measurements are being made. Furthermore, due to large data heterogeneity, previous studies do not give unequivocal information concerning the pressure profile in the vascular system, or the level of arterial diameter responsible for blood flow. Finally, and importantly, there is little evidence regarding the conscious state, which is thus a major limitation to understanding the mechanisms of blood distribution and the pathogenesis for disease processes such as genetic hypertension. This review first summarizes briefly the techniques which are available for identifying resistance arteries and the inherent technical limitations which are involved. The review then provides a critical assessment of the available data, both as regards measurement of local blood pressures and as regards control of peripheral resistance. The evidence suggests that, at least as regards rats and other small animals, feed arteries as well as more distal microvessels contribute to the maintenance and regulation of blood flow and resistance. Evidence from larger animals is however lacking, and it is thus unclear if resistance function should be based on arterial diameter or anatomic location. Furthermore, evidence concerning man is not available. We therefore conclude the review with suggestions for future research in this area.

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