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  1. Atherosclerosis and vascular disease of larger arteries are often associated with hypoxia within the layers of the vascular wall. In this review, we begin with a brief overview of the molecular changes in vascular cells associated with hypoxia and then emphasize the transport mechanisms that bring oxygen to cells within the vascular wall. We focus on fluid mechanical factors that control oxygen transport from lumenal blood flow to the intima and inner media layers of the artery, and solid mechanical factors that influence oxygen transport to the adventitia and outer media via the wall's microvascular system—the vasa vasorum (VV). Many cardiovascular risk factors are associated with VV compression that reduces VV perfusion and oxygenation. Dysfunctional VV neovascularization in response to hypoxia contributes to plaque inflammation and growth. Disturbed blood flow in vascular bifurcations and curvatures leads to reduced oxygen transport from blood to the inner layers of the wall and contributes to the development of atherosclerotic plaques in these regions. Recent studies have shown that hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α), a critical transcription factor associated with hypoxia, is also activated in disturbed flow by a mechanism that is independent of hypoxia. A final section of the review emphasizes hypoxia in vascular stentingmore »that is used to enlarge vessels occluded by plaques. Stenting can compress the VV leading to hypoxia and associated intimal hyperplasia. To enhance oxygen transport during stenting, new stent designs with helical centrelines have been developed to increase blood phase oxygen transport rates and reduce intimal hyperplasia. Further study of the mechanisms controlling hypoxia in the artery wall may contribute to the development of therapeutic strategies for vascular diseases.« less