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Combining experimental and theoretical techniques to quantify vascular compensation [summary]

PIs: J. Arciero (Department of Mathematical Sciences, IUPUI) , J. Unthank (Department of Surgery, IUSM) 

Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) affects nearly 8 million Americans and is characterized by occluded systemic arteries (often due to atherosclerosis) and reduced blood supply to tissue. The human vasculature is capable of compensating for an occlusion by triggering the dilation of collateral arteries, which are arteries that bypass the blockage to allow blood to reach the necessary tissue regions. In some cases, the vasculature compensation is successful, but other cases result in significant morbidity and mortality. It is presently unknown why certain cases of PAD are restored to normal circulatory health while others progress to limb loss. There is currently no consistent method for assessing microvascular compensation. Counting the number of arterioles or capillaries in calf muscle and the number of vessel branches in the thigh are different methods that have been used previously to evaluate changes in vascular compensation following arterial occlusion in the leg. However, it is not understood how changes in each of these segments correlate to tissue perfusion and translate to changes in vascular resistance. The lack of consistent methods for assessing vascular compensation leads to uncertainty in the conclusions stated in many pre-clinical PAD studies. The experimental and theoretical approaches proposed here will advance the field of vascular biology by obtaining accurate vessel length and diameter data throughout an entire network using a novel experimental technique and implementing this data in a theoretical model that can predict whether increases in vessel diameters or vessel numbers are most significant in restoring normal perfusion in PAD.