Design principles of vascular beds

Axel R. Pries, Timothy W. Secomb, Peter Gaehtgens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

247 Scopus citations


Hemodynamic parameters were determined in each vessel segment of six complete microvascular networks in the rat mesentery by using a combination of experimental measurements and theoretical simulations. For a total number of 2592 segments, a strong unified dependence of wall shear stress on intravascular pressure for arterioles, capillaries, and venules was obtained. All three types of segments exhibit an essentially identical variation of shear stress from high to low values (from ≃100 to 10 dyne/cm2) as intravascular pressure falls from 70 to 15 mm Hg. On the basis of these observations, it is proposed that vascular beds grow and adapt so as to maintain the shear stress in each vessel at a level that depends on local transmural pressure. In contrast to Murray's classic 'minimum-cost' hypothesis, which implies uniformity of wall shear rate throughout the vasculature, the proposed design principle provides an explanation for the functionally important arteriovenous asymmetry of wall shear rates and flow resistance in the circulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1017-1023
Number of pages7
JournalCirculation research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1995


  • growth
  • intravascular pressure
  • optimal design
  • shear stress
  • vascular remodeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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