Blood flow and optimal vascular topography: role of the endothelium
We have used x-ray microangiography to investigate the influence of EDRF and endothelin-1 on arterial diameters (70–800 μm) at bifurcations in the isolated rabbit ear and the “optimality” of its branching geometry. The median value of the junction exponent x (which is given by d 0 x =d 1 x +d 2 x , where d 0 d 1 and d 2 are parent and daughter artery diameters respectively) was close to 3 at different flow rates in unconstricted preparations. When x = 3, branching geometry is optimal in that i) power losses and intravascular volume are both minimised, and ii) fractal considerations suggest that the total surface area for metabolic exchange is maximised. Under conditions of vasoconstriction (by 5HT/histamine) the junction exponent deviated from its control value but was restored towards 3, both by basal and by acetylcholine-stimulated EDRF activity. In contrast, endothelin-1 caused a dose-dependent reduction in the junction exponent from its optimal value 3. This suggests that the endothelium helps to optimise microvascular function through EDRF but not endothelin-1 release.
Key wordsEndothelium EDRF endothelin-1 optimality rabbit ear microvascular function
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