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Microcirculation. 1996 Jun;3(2):143-65.

The role of mechanical stresses in microvascular remodeling.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Virginia, Charlottesville 22908, USA.


The microvasculature is an extremely adaptable structure that is capable of architectural and functional adjustments in response to multiple biochemical and mechanical stimuli. Inadequate or inappropriate adjustments often result in pathophysiology. Recent work has brought increasing recognition of the importance of microvascular remodeling in widespread disease states such as hypertension, tumor growth, diabetes, and progressive coronary artery occlusion. Much work has been done to characterize the cells and molecules with putative roles in microvascular remodeling, but little is known regarding the mechanotransduction processes that might link hemodynamic stresses such as wall shear stress and circumferential wall stress to structural and functional changes in vivo. Two primary approaches have been employed: in vitro studies that use cultured cells and allow molecular biologic analysis of signaling pathways and gene expression; and in vivo experiments aimed at understanding vessel adaptations in the intact tissue. This article reviews the structural adaptations exhibited by microvessels and the information available from in vitro and in vivo approaches. The formation of new arterioles in intact tissues is examined in detail as an example of integrative work, and the prospects for new technologies are discussed. This is a time of great opportunity for bidirectional exchange between basic in vitro advances and in vivo experimentation. This exchange will be essential in generating new understanding of the role of mechanical stresses in microvascular remodeling.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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