Structural control of microvessel diameters: Origins of metabolic signals

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Diameters of microvessels undergo continuous structural adaptation in response to hemodynamic and metabolic stimuli. To ensure adequate flow distribution, metabolic responses are needed to increase diameters of vessels feeding poorly perfused regions. Possible modes of metabolic control include release of signaling substances from vessel walls, from the supplied tissue and from red blood cells (RBC). Here, a theoretical model was used to compare the abilities of these metabolic control modes to provide adequate tissue oxygenation, and to generate blood flow velocities in agreement with experimental observations. Structural adaptation of vessel diameters was simulated for an observed mesenteric network structure in the rat with 576 vessel segments. For each mode of metabolic control, resulting distributions of oxygen and deviations between simulated and experimentally observed flow velocities were analyzed. It was found that wall-derived and tissue-derived growth signals released in response to low oxygen levels could ensure adequate oxygen supply, but RBC-derived signals caused inefficient oxygenation. Closest agreement between predicted and observed flow velocities was obtained with wall-derived growth signals proportional to vessel length. Adaptation in response to oxygen-independent release of a metabolic signal substance from vessel walls or the supplied tissue was also shown to be effective for ensuring tissue oxygenation due to a dilution effect if growth signal substances are released into the blood. The present results suggest that metabolic signals responsible for structural adaptation of microvessel diameters are derived from vessel walls or from perivascular tissue.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number813
JournalFrontiers in Physiology
Issue numberOCT
StatePublished - Oct 24 2017


  • Blood flow
  • Microcirculation
  • Oxygen transport
  • Structural adaptation
  • Vascular remodeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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