The heterogeneity of the lamellar unit (LU) of arterial media plays an important role in the biomechanics of artery. Current two-component (fibrous component and a homogenous matrix) constitutive model is inappropriate for capturing the micro-structural variations in the LU, such as contraction/relaxation of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs), fragmentation of the elastin layer, and deposition/disruption of the collagen network. In this work, we developed a representative volume element (RVE) model with detailed micro-configurations, i.e., VSMCs at various phenotypes, collagen fibers, and elastin laminate embedded in the ground substance. The fiber architecture was generated based on its volume fraction and orientations. Our multi-scale model demonstrated the relation between the arterial expansion and the micro-structural variation of the lamellar unit. The obtained uniaxial response of the LU was validated against the published experimental data. The load sharing capacity of fibrous component and VSMCs of the LU were obtained. We found that the VSMC could take 30% of the circumferential load when contracted until the collagen fibers were recruited, while this value was less than 2% for the relaxed VSMC. In addition, the contribution of collagen fibers at low stretch levels was negligible but became predominant when straightened in high stretches.Moreover, aging effects by collagen deposition was modeled to estimate the arterial stiffening. It was revealed that the aortic stiffness is mainly controlled by collagen fibers, instead of VSMCs. Our findings could shed some light about the contribution of VSMCs in arterial stiffness which has been under debate in recent years.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Medicine (miscellaneous)
- Materials Science (miscellaneous)
- Energy Engineering and Power Technology
- Engineering (miscellaneous)
- Process Chemistry and Technology