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Am J Physiol. 1989 Jan;256(1 Pt 2):H126-31.

Microvascular rarefaction and tissue vascular resistance in hypertension.

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Department of Physiology, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee 53226.


The purpose of this study was to quantitatively estimate the relative contribution of arteriolar rarefaction (disappearance of microvessels) and arteriolar constriction to the increases in total peripheral resistance and changes in the patterns of flow distribution observed in hypertension. A mathematical model of the hamster cheek pouch intraluminal microcirculation was constructed based on data from the literature and observations from our own laboratory. Separate rarefaction and constriction of third-order (3A) and fourth-order (4A) arterioles were performed on the model, and the results were quantified based on the changes of the computed vascular resistance. The degree of increase in resistance depended both on the number and the order of vessels rarefied or constricted and also on the position of those vessels in the network. The maximum increases in resistance obtained in the model runs were 21% for rarefaction and 75% for constriction. Rarefaction, but not constriction, produced large increases in the degree of heterogeneity of blood flow in the various vessel orders. These results demonstrate that vessel rarefaction significantly influences tissue blood flow resistance to a degree comparable with vessel constriction; however, unlike constriction, microvascular rarefaction markedly altered blood flow distribution in our model of the hamster cheek pouch vascular bed. These findings conform with the hypothesis that a significant component of the increase in total peripheral resistance in hypertension may be due to vessel rarefaction.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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