Disturbed flow's impact on cellular changes indicative of vascular aneurysm initiation, expansion, and rupture: A pathological and methodological review

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Department of Biomedical Engineering


Aneurysms are malformations within the arterial vasculature brought on by the structural breakdown of the microarchitecture of the vessel wall, with aneurysms posing serious health risks in the event of their rupture. Blood flow within vessels is generally laminar with high, unidirectional wall shear stressors that modulate vascular endothelial cell functionality and regulate vascular smooth muscle cells. However, altered vascular geometry induced by bifurcations, significant curvature, stenosis, or clinical interventions can alter the flow, generating low stressor disturbed flow patterns. Disturbed flow is associated with altered cellular morphology, upregulated expression of proteins modulating inflammation, decreased regulation of vascular permeability, degraded extracellular matrix, and heightened cellular apoptosis. The understanding of the effects disturbed flow has on the cellular cascades which initiate aneurysms and promote their subsequent growth can further elucidate the nature of this complex pathology. This review summarizes the current knowledge about the disturbed flow and its relation to aneurysm pathology, the methods used to investigate these relations, as well as how such knowledge has impacted clinical treatment methodologies. This information can contribute to the understanding of the development, growth, and rupture of aneurysms and help develop novel research and aneurysmal treatment techniques.

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Journal of Cellular Physiology