Element of Physiology and Mechanics of Human Arteries

  • Robert S. Reneman
  • Arnold P. G. Hoeks
  • Lilian Kornet
Part of the International Centre for Mechanical Sciences book series (CISM, volume 446)


Some elements concerning the physiology and the corresponding mechanical properties of human arteries are introduced. The non-invasive ultrasound techniques developed to assess strain, distensibility and compliance and IMT, velocity and wall shear rate/stress distribution in arteries are introduced. Artery wall properties, and intima-media thickness (IMT) change with age and disease are discussed with the relation with artery wall function and structure and role in the genesis of atherosclerosis. In hypertension and with aging elastic arteries become stiffer (loss of distensibility and compliance), the degree of stiffening also varies along artery bifurcations and differs in elastic and muscular arteries. These variations give differences in intima-media thickness and sites of preference for atherosclerosis. Alterations in structure and composition of the arterial wall responsible for the loss of distensibility and compliance and the increase in intima-media thickness (IMT) in disease and aging. Reasons and effects are discussed.


Wall Shear Stress Pulse Wave Velocity Artery Wall Superficial Femoral Artery Sample Window 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Ando, J., Ohtsuka, A., Katayama, Y. et al. (1994). Intracellular calcium response to directly applied mechanical shearing force in cultured vascular endothelial cells. Biorheology. 31: 57–68.Google Scholar
  2. Ando, J. Tsuboi, H., Korenaga, R., et al. (1996). Down-regulation of vascular adhesion molecule-1 by fluid shear stress in cultured mouse endothelial cells. Annuals of the New York Academy of Sciences 748: 148–157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barra J G, Armentano R L, Levenson J., et al. (1993). Assessment of smooth muscle contribution to descending thoracic aortic elastic mechanics in conscious dogs. Circulation Research 73: 1040–1050.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bots, M.,L., Hofman, A., Grobbee, D.E. (1997). Increased common carotid intima-media thickness. Adaptive response or a reflection of atherosclerosis? Findings from the Rotterdam study. Stroke 28: 2442–2447.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Boutouyrie, P., Laurent S., Girerd, X. et al. (1995). Common carotid artery stiffness and patterns of left ventricular hypertrophy in hypertensive patients. Hypertension 25: 651–659.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brands, P.,J., Hoeks, A.,P.,G., Hofstra, L., Reneman, R.,S. (1995). A non-invasive method to estimate wall shear rate using. Ultrasound in Medicine and Biology 21: 171–185.Google Scholar
  7. Busse, R., Fleming, I. (1966). Endothelial dysfunction in atherosclerosis. Journal of Vascular Research 33: 181–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Busse, R., Fleming, I. (1998). Pulsatile stretch and shear stress: physical stimuli determining the production of endothelium-derived relaxing factors. Journal of Vascular Research 35: 73–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chapell, D.,C., Varner, S.,E., Nerem, R., M., et al. (1998). Oscillatory shear stress stimulates adhesion molecule expression in cultured human endothelium. Circulation Research 82: 532–539.Google Scholar
  10. De Keulenaar, G.W., Chappell, D.C., Ishizaka N. et al. (1998). Oscillatory and steady laminar shear stress differentially affect human endothelial redox state. Circulation Research 82: 1094–1101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Frangos, J.A., Eskin, S.G., McIntyre L.V., Ives, C.L. (1985). Flow effects on prostacyclin production by cultured human endothelial cells. Science 227: 1477–1479.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gandley, R.E., McLaughin, M.K., Koole, T.J. et al. (1997). Contribution of chondroitin-dermatan sulfate-containing proteoglycans to the function of rat mesenteric arteries. American Journal of Physiology 42: H952 - H960.Google Scholar
  13. Girerd, X., Mourad, J-J., Acar, C., et al. (1994). Noninvasive measurement of medium-sized artery intima-media thickness in humans: in vitro validation. Journal of Vascular Research 31: 114–120.Google Scholar
  14. Glagov, S., Vito, R., Giddens, D.P, Zarins, C.,K. (1992) Microarchitecture and compostition of artery walls: relationships to location, diameter and the distribution of mechanical stress. Journal of Hypertension 10: 5101–5104Google Scholar
  15. Green, M.,A., Friedlander, R., Boltax, A.,J. et al. (1966). Distensibility of arteries in human hypertension. Proceedings Society of Experimental Biology in Medicine 121: 580–585.Google Scholar
  16. Greenwald, S.E., Berry, C.L. (1978). Static mechanical properties and chemical composition of the aorta of spontaneously hypertensive rats: a comparison with the effects of induced hypertension. Cardiovascular Research 12: 364–372.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gribbin, B., Pickering, T.,G., Sleight, P., (1979). Arterial distensibility in normal and hypertensive man. Clinical Science 56: 413–417.Google Scholar
  18. Gribbin, B., Pickering, T.,G., Sleight, P., Peto, R. (1971). Effect of age and high blood pressure on baroreflex sensitivity in men. Circulation Research. 29: 424–431.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Harkness M.L.R., Harkness, R.D., McDonald, D.A. (1957). The collagend and elastin content of the arterial wall in the dog. Proceedings of the Royal Society 146B: 541–551.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hayoz, D., Rutschmann, B., Perret, F. et al. (1992). Conduit artery compliance and distensibility are not necessarily reduced in hypertension. Hypertension 20: 1–6CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hoeks, A.,P.,G. (1993). Non-invasive study of the local mechanical arterial characteristics in humans. In: Safar M E, O’Rourke M F (eds). The arterial system in hypertension. The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers 119–134.Google Scholar
  22. Hoeks, A.,P.,S., Arts, T.,H.,J., Brands, P.,J., Reneman, R.,S. (1993). Comparison of the performance of the cross-correlation and Doppler autocorrelation technique to estimate the mean velocity of stimulated ultrasound signals. Ultrasound in Medicine and Biology 19: 727–740.Google Scholar
  23. Hoeks, A.,P.,G., Brands, P., J., Smeets, F.,A.,M., Reneman, R.,S. (1990). Assessment of the distensibility of superficial arteries. Ultrasound in Medicine and Biology 16: 121–128.Google Scholar
  24. Hoeks, A.,P.,G., Ruissen, C.,J., Hick, P., Reneman, R.,S. (1985). Transcutaneous detection of relative changes in artery diameter. Ultrasound in Medicine and Biology 11: 51–59.Google Scholar
  25. Hoeks, A.,P.,G., Willekes, C., Boutouyrie. P. et al. (1997). Automated detection of local artery wall thickness based on M-line signal processing. Ultrasound in Medicine and Biology 23: 1017–1023.Google Scholar
  26. Hokanson, D.,E., Mozersky, D.,J., Summer, D.,S., Strandness, D.,E., (1972). A phase locked echo-tracking system for recording arterial diameter changes in vivo. Journal of Applied Physiology 32: 728–733.Google Scholar
  27. Kamiya, A., Bukhari, R., Togawa, T. (1984). Adaptive regulation of wall shear stress optimizing vascular tree function. Bulletin of Mathematical Biology 46: 127–137.Google Scholar
  28. Kohn R R. (1977). Heart and cardiovascular system. In: Finch, C.E., Hayflick, L. (eds). Handbook of the biology of aging. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company 281–317.Google Scholar
  29. Komet, L., Hoeks, A.P.G., Lambregts, J., Reneman, R.S. (1999). In the femoral artery bifurcation, differences in mean wall shear stress within subjects are associated with different intima-media thicknesses. Artheriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology 19: 2933–2939.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Komet, L., Hoeks, A.P.G., Lambregts, J., Reneman, R.,S. (2000). Mean wall shear stress in the femoral arterial bifurcation is low and independent of age at rest. Journal of Vascular Research 37: 112–122.Google Scholar
  31. Komet, L. Lambregts, J., Hoeks, A.P.G., Reneman, R.S. (1998). Differences in near-wall shear rate in the carotid artery within subjects are associated with different intima-media thicknesses. Artherioclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology 18: 1877–1884.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Ku, D.N., Giddens, D.P., Zarins, C.K., Glagov, S. (1985). Pulsatile flow and atherosclerosis in the human carotid bifurcation. Arteriosclerosis 5: 293–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. LaBarbera M. (1990). Principles of design of fluid transport systems in zoology. Science 249: 992–1000.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Laurent, S., Girerd, X., Mourad, J-J. et al. (1994). Elastic modulus of the radial artery wall material is not increased in patients with essential hypertension. Arteriosclerosis and Thrombosis 14: 1223–1231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Laurent, S., Caviezel, B., Beck, L. et al. (1994b). Carotid artery distensibility and distending pressure in hypertensive humans. Hypertension 23: 878–883.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Learoyd, B.,M., Taylor, M.,G. (1966.) Alterations with age in the viscoelastic properties of human arterial walls. Circulation Research 18: 278–292.Google Scholar
  37. Lehmann, E.,D., Hopkins, K.,D., Gosling, R.,G. (1993). Aortic compliance measurements using Doppler ultrasound: in vivo biochemical correlates. Ultrasound in Medicine and Biology 19: 683–710.Google Scholar
  38. Levesque, M.J., Nerem, R.M. (1985). The elongation and orientation of cultured endothelial cells in response to shear stress. Journal of Biomechanical Engineering 107: 341–347.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Li, D.Y., Brooke, B., Davis, E.C., et al. (1998). Elastin is an essential determinant of arterial morphogenesis. Nature 393: 276–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Menotti, A., Seccareccia, F., Giampaoij, S., Giuli, B. (1998). The predictive role of systolic, diastolic and mean blood pressure on cardiovascular and all causes of death. Hypertension 7: 595–599.Google Scholar
  41. Milnor, W.,R. (1989). Hemodynamics. Baltimore: Williams and WilkinsGoogle Scholar
  42. Mozersky, D.,J., Sumner, D.,S., Hokanson, D.,E., Strandness Jr., D.,E. (1972). Transcutaneous measurement of the elastic properties of the human femoral artery. Circulation 46: 948–955.Google Scholar
  43. Murray, C.D. (1926). The pysiological principle of minimum work. I: The vascular system and the cost of blood volume. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciencse USA 12: 207–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Nichols, W.W., O’Rourke, M. F. (1990). Mc Donald’s blood flow in arteries. London, Melbourne, Auckland: Edward Arnold 424–425.Google Scholar
  45. O’Rourke, M. (1990). Arterial stiffness, systolic blood pressure, and logical treatment of arterial hypertension. Hypertension 15: 339–347.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Oyre, S., Pedersen, E.,M., Ringgaard, S. et al. (1997) In vivo wall shear stress measured by magnetic resonance velocity mapping in the normal human abdominal aorta. European Journal of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery 13: 263–271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Oyre, S., Ringgaard, S., Kozerke, S. et al. (1998). Accurate noninvasive quantitation of blood flow, cross-sectional lumen vessel area and wall shear stress by three-dimensional paraboloid modeling of magnetic resonance imaging velocity data Journal of the American College of Cardiology 32: 128–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Patel, D.,J., Fry, D.,L. (1966). Longitudinal tethering of arteries in dogs. Circulation Research 19: 1011–1021Google Scholar
  49. Perktold, K., Thurner, E., Kenner, T. (1994) Flow and stress characteristics in rigid walled and compliant carotid artery bifurcation models. Medicine and Biology in Engineering and Computing. 32: 19–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Pignoli, P., Tremoli, E., Poli, A. et al. (1986). Intimal plus medial thickness of the arterial wall: a direct measurement with ultrasound imaging. Circulation 74: 1399–1406.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Reneman, R.S., Van Merode, T., Hick, P., Hoeks, A.,P.,G. (1985). Flow velocity patterns in and distensibility of the carotid artery bulb in subjects of various ages. Circulation 71: 500–509.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Reneman, R.,S., Van Merode, T., Hick, P., Hoeks, A.,P.,G. (1986). Cardiovascular applications of multigate pulsed Doppler systems. Ultrasound in Medicine and Biology. 12: 357–370.Google Scholar
  53. Reneman, R.,S., Van Merode, T., Hick, et al. (1986). Age-related changes in carotid artery wall properties in men. Ultrasound in Medicine and Biology 12: 465–471.Google Scholar
  54. Riley, W.A., Barnes, R.W., Evans, G.W., Burke, G.L. (1992). Ultrasonic measurement of the elastic modulus of the common carotid artery. Stroke 23: 952–956.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Riley, W.,A., Craven, T., Romont, A., Furberg, C. (1996). Assessment of temporal bias in longitudinal measurements of carotid intimal-media thickness in the asymptomatic carotid artery progression study (ACAPS). Ultrasound in Medicine and Biology 22: 405–411.Google Scholar
  56. Roach, M.R., Burton, A.C. (1957). The reason for the shape of the distensibility curves of arteries. Canadian Journal of Biochemical Physiology 35: 681–690.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Robert, L., Robert,B., Robert, A.M. (1970). Molecular biology of elastin as related to aging and atherosclerosis. Experimental Gerontology 5: 339–356.Google Scholar
  58. Rossitti, S., Lofgren, J. (1993). Vascular dimensions of the cerebral arteries follow the principle of minimum work. Stroke 24: 371–377.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Rubanyi, G.M., Freay, A.D., Kauser, K., et al. (1990). Mechanoreception by the endothelium: mediators and mechanisms of pressure-and flow-induced vascular responses. Blood Vessels 27: 246–257.Google Scholar
  60. Salonen, J.,T., Salonen, R. (1991). Ultrasonographically assessed carotid morphology and the risk of coronary heart disease. Arteriosclerosis Thrombosis 11: 1245–1249.Google Scholar
  61. Samijo, S.K., Willigers, J.M., Barkhuysen R., et al. (1998). Wall shear stress in the common carotid artery as function of age and gender. Cardiovascular Research 29: 515–522.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Safar, M.,E., Peronneau, P.,A., Levenson, J.,A. et al. (1981). Pulsed Doppler: diameter, blood flow velocity and volumic flow of the brachial artery in sustained essential hypertension. Circulation 2: 393–400.Google Scholar
  63. Sagie, A., Larson, M.G., Levy, D. (1993). The natural history of borderline isolated systolic hypertension. New England Journal of Medicine 329: 1912–1917.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Sakamoto, K., Kanai, H. (1979). Electrical characteristics of flowing blood. IEE Transactions Biomedical Engineering 26: 686–695.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Samijo, S.,K., Willigers, J.,L., Brands, P.,J. et al. (1997). Reproducibility of shear rate and shear stress assessment by means of ultrasound in the common carotid artery of young human males and females. Ultrasound in Medicine and Biology. 23: 583–593.Google Scholar
  66. Stary, H.C., Blankenhorn, D.H., Chandler, A.B. (1992). A definition of the intima of human arteries and of its atherosclerosis-prone regions. Arteriosclerosis and Thrombosis 12: 120–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Tsao, P.S., Buitrago, R., Chan, J.R., Cooke, J.P. (1996). Fluid flow inhibits endothelial adhesiveness, nitric oxide and transcriptional regulation of VCAM-1. Circulation 94: 1682–1689.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Van Gorp, A.W., Van Ingen Schenau, D.S., Hoeks, A.P.G., et al. (2000). In spontaneously hypertensive rats alterations in aortic wall properties precede development of hypertension. American Journal of Physiology 287: H1241 - H1247.Google Scholar
  69. Van Gorp, A.,W., Van Ingen Schenau, D.,S., Hoeks, A.,P.,G. et al. (1995). Aortic wall properties in normotensive and hypertensive rats of various ages in vivo. Hypertension 26: 363–368.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Van Merode, T., Brands PJ, Hoeks APG, Reneman RS (1993) Faster ageing of the carotid artery bifurcation in borderline hypertensive subjects. Journal of Hypertension 11: 171–176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Van Merode, T, Brands, P.,J., Hoeks, A.,P.,G., Reneman, R.,S. (1996) Different effects of ageing on elastic and muscular bifurcations in men. Journal of Vascular Research 33: 47–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Van Merode, T., Hick, P.,J.,J., Hoeks, A.,P.,G. et al. (1988). Carotid artery wall properties in normotensive and borderline hypertensive subjects of various ages. Ultrasound in Medicine and Biology 14: 563–569.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Van Merode, T., Lodder, J., Smeets, F.,A.,M. et al. (1989). Accurate noninvasive method to diagnose minor atherosclerotic lesions in carotid artery bulb. Stroke 20: 1336–1340.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Ventura, H., Messerli, F,H., Oigman, W. et al. (1984). Impaired systemic arterial compliance in borderline hypertension. American Heart Journal 108: 132–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Wells, P., N., T., (1969). Physical principles of ultrasonic diagnosis. London, New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  76. Willekes, C., Brandts, P.,J., Willigers, J.,M. et al. (1999). Assessment of local differences in intima-media thickness in the human common carotid artery. Journal of Vascular Research 36: 222–228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Zarins, C.K., Giddens, D.P., Bharadvaj, B.K., et al. (1983). Carotid bifurcation atherosclerosis: quantitative correlation of plaque localization with flow velocity profiles and wall shear stress. Circulation Research 53: 502–514.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert S. Reneman
    • 1
  • Arnold P. G. Hoeks
    • 1
  • Lilian Kornet
    • 1
  1. 1.Departments of Physiology and Biophysics, Cardiovascular Research InstituteMaastricht UniversityMaastrichtThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations