Remodeling of blood vessels: Responses of diameter and wall thickness to hemodynamic and metabolic stimuli

Axel R. Pries, Bettina Reglin, Timothy W. Secomb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

159 Scopus citations


Vascular functions, including tissue perfusion and peripheral resistance, reflect continuous structural adaptation (remodeling) of blood vessels in response to several stimuli. Here, a theoretical model is presented that relates the structural and functional properties of microvascular networks to the adaptive responses of individual segments to hemodynamic and metabolic stimuli. All vessels are assumed to respond, according to a common set of adaptation rules, to changes in wall shear stress, circumferential wall stress, and tissue metabolic status (indicated by partial pressure of oxygen). An increase in vessel diameter with increasing wall shear stress and an increase in wall mass with increased circumferential stress are needed to ensure stable vascular adaptation. The model allows quantitative predictions of the effects of changes in systemic hemodynamic conditions or local adaptation characteristics on vessel structure and on peripheral resistance. Predicted effects of driving pressure on the ratio of wall thickness to vessel diameter are consistent with experimental observations. In addition, peripheral resistance increases by ≈65% for an increase in driving pressure from 50 to 150 mm Hg. Peripheral resistance is predicted to be markedly increased in response to a decrease in vascular sensitivity to wall shear stress, and to be decreased in response to increased tissue metabolic demand. This theoretical approach provides a framework for integrating available information on structural remodeling in the vascular system and predicting responses to changing conditions or altered vascular reactivity, as may occur in hypertension.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)725-731
Number of pages7
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2005


  • Hemodynamics
  • Hypertension
  • Remodeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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