Annals of Biomedical Engineering

, Volume 39, Issue 7, pp 2027–2045 | Cite as

A Multi-Layered Computational Model of Coupled Elastin Degradation, Vasoactive Dysfunction, and Collagenous Stiffening in Aortic Aging

  • A. Valentín
  • J. D. Humphrey
  • G. A. HolzapfelEmail author


Arterial responses to diverse pathologies and insults likely occur via similar mechanisms. For example, many studies suggest that the natural process of aging and isolated systolic hypertension share many characteristics in arteries, including loss of functional elastin, decreased smooth muscle tone, and altered rates of deposition, and/or crosslinking of fibrillar collagen. Our aim is to show computationally how these coupled effects can impact evolving aortic geometry and mechanical behavior. Employing a thick-walled, multi-layered constrained mixture model, we suggest that a coupled loss of elastin and vasoactive function are fundamental mechanisms by which aortic aging occurs. Moreover, it is suggested that collagenous stiffening, although itself generally an undesirable process, can play a key role in attenuating excessive dilatation, perhaps including the enlargement of abdominal aortic aneurysms.


Aneurysms Vascular growth Remodeling Elastin fatigue Collagen turnover Stress 



This work was supported, in part, by NIH grant HL-086418 via the program, Collaborations with National Centers for Biomedical Computing (SimBios at Stanford University) and NIH grant HL-105297.


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Copyright information

© Biomedical Engineering Society 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Valentín
    • 1
  • J. D. Humphrey
    • 2
  • G. A. Holzapfel
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Institute of Biomechanics, Center of Biomedical EngineeringGraz University of TechnologyGrazAustria
  2. 2.Department of Biomedical EngineeringYale UniversityNew HavenUSA
  3. 3.Department of Solid Mechanics, School of Engineering SciencesRoyal Institute of Technology (KTH)StockholmSweden

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