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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 »
Vascular stenting is a common intervention for the treatment for atherosclerotic plaques. However, stenting still has a significant rate of restenosis caused by intimal hyperplasia formation. In this study, we evaluate whether stent overexpansion leads to Vasa Vasorum (VV) compression, which may contribute to vascular wall hypoxia and restenosis. An idealized multilayered fibroatheroma model including Vasa Vasorum was expanded by three coronary stent designs up to a 1.3:1 stent/artery luminal diameter ratio (exp1.1, exp1.2, exp1.3) using a finite element analysis approach. Following Poiseuille’s law for elliptical sections, the fold increase in flow resistance was calculated based on VV compression in the Intima (Int), Media (Med) and Adventitia (Adv). The VV beneath the plaque experiences the smallest degree of compression, while the opposite wall regions are highly affected by stent overexpansion. The highest compressions for Adv, Med and Int at exp1.1 are 60.7, 65.9, 72.3%, at exp1.2 are 62.1, 67.3, 73.5% and at expp1.3 are 63.2, 68.7, 74.8%. The consequent fold increase in resistance to flow for Adv, Med and Int at exp1.1 is 3.3, 4.4, 6.6, at exp1.2 is 3.5, 4.7, 7.2 and at exp1.3 is 3.8, 5.1, 7.9. Stent overexpansion induces significant VV compression, especially in the Intima andmore »