Biomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 313–326 | Cite as

Flow-dependent concentration polarization and the endothelial glycocalyx layer: multi-scale aspects of arterial mass transport and their implications for atherosclerosis

  • P. E. Vincent
  • P. D. Weinberg
Original Paper


Atherosclerosis is the underlying cause of most heart attacks and strokes. It is thereby the leading cause of death in the Western world, and it places a significant financial burden on health care systems. There is evidence that complex, multi-scale arterial mass transport processes play a key role in the development of atherosclerosis. Such processes can be controlled both by blood flow patterns and by properties of the arterial wall. This short review focuses on one vascular-scale, flow-regulated arterial mass transport process, namely concentration polarization of low density lipoprotein at the luminal surface of the arterial endothelium, and on one cellular-scale, structural determinant of arterial wall mass transport, namely the endothelial glycocalyx layer. Both have attracted significant attention in recent years. In addition to reviewing and appraising relevant literature, we propose various directions for future work.


Atherosclerosis Mass transport Endothelial glycocalyx layer Concentration polarization Low density lipoprotein 



The authors are grateful to the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and the BHF Centre of Research Excellence at Imperial College London for funding studies of arterial mass transport and its modulation by the EGL. The authors would also like to thank Fernando Bresme and Amparo Galindo for useful discussions regarding molecular-scale modeling of the EGL.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AeronauticsImperial College LondonSouth Kensington, LondonUK
  2. 2.Department of BioengineeringImperial College LondonSouth Kensington, LondonUK

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