Digestive Diseases and Sciences

, Volume 45, Issue 12, pp 2271–2281

REVIEW: The Zero-Stress State of the Gastrointestinal Tract:

  • H. Gregersen
  • G.S. Kassab
  • Y.C. Fung


The stresses and strains that remain in an organ when the external load is removed (the no-load state) are called residual stresses and strains. They can be relieved by cutting up the organ to obtain the zero-stress configuration. This phenomenon was demonstrated more than 15 years ago in cardiovascular research but until recently it was not realized by the gastrointestinal research community. The function of the gastrointestinal tract is to propel food by peristaltic motion, which is a result of the interaction of the tissue forces in the wall and the hydrodynamic forces in the food bolus. To understand the tissue forces, it is necessary to know the stress–strain relationships of the tissues that must be measured in reference to the zero-stress state. It has become clear that the zero-stress configuration of the gastrointestinal tract is very different from that of the no-load condition and that the zero-stress state is sensitive to structural and mechanical remodeling. The purpose of this review is to describe the basic theory and experiments of residual stress and to explore its physiological and pathophysiological implications in the gastrointestinal system.

residual stress residual strain zero-stress state opening angle morphometry elasticity 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Arndorfer RC, Stef JJ, Dodds WJ, Linehan JH, Hogan WT: Improved infusion system for intraluminal esophageal manometry. Gastroenterology 73:23-27, 1997Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Christensen J: The oesophagus. In Physiology of the Gastrointestinal Tract, Vol. 1, 2nd ed. LR Johnson, J Christensen, MJ Jackson, ED Jacobson, JH Walsh (eds.). New York, Raven Press 1987, pp 595-612Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Humphries TJ, Castell DO: Pressure profile of esophageal peristalsis in normal humans as measured by direct intraesophageal transducers. Am J Dig Dis 22:641-646, 1977Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Li M, Brasseur JG, Kern MK, Dodds WJ: Viscosity measurements of barium sulfate mixtures for use in motility studies of the pharynx and esophagus. Dysphagia 7:17-30, 1992Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Ren J, Massey BT, Dodds WJ, Kern MK, Brasseur JG, Shaker R, Harrington SS, Hogan WJ, Arndorfer RC: Determinants of the bolus pressure during esophageal peristaltic bolus transport. Am J Physiol 264:G407-G413, 1993Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Ravinder KM, Ren J, McCallum RW, Shaffer HA, Sluss J: Modulation of feline oesophageal contractions by bolus volume and outflow obstruction. Am J Physiol 258:G208-G215, 1990Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Christensen J, Freeman BW, Miller JK: Some physiological characteristics of the esophagogastric junction in the opossum. Gastroenterology 64:1119-1125, 1973Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Vaishnav RN, Vossoughi J: Estimation of residual strains in aortic segments. In Biomedical engineering II. Recent Developments. CW Hall (ed.). New York, Pergamon Press, 1983, pp 330-333Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Fung YC: What principle governs the stress distribution in living organs? In Biomechanics in China, Japan and USA. YC Fung, E Fukada, W Junjian (eds.). Beijing, China, Science, 1983, pp 1-13Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Fung YC, Liu SQ: Changes of residual strains in arteries due to hypertrophy caused by aortic constriction. Circ Res 65:1340-1349, 1989Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Fung YC, Liu SQ: Changes of the zero-stress state of rat pulmonary arteries in hypoxic hypertension. J Appl Physiol 70:2455-2470, 1991Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Liu SQ, Fung YC: Zero-stress state of arteries. J Biomech Eng 110:82-84, 1988Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Han HC, Fung YC: Species difference of the zero-stress state of aorta: Pig vs rat. J Biomech Eng 113:446-451, 1991.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Liu SQ, Fung YC: Relationship between hypertension, hypertrophy, and opening angle of zero-stress state of arteries following aortic constriction. J Biomech Eng 111:325-335, 1989Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Vaishnav RN, Vossoughi J: Residual stress and strain-in aortic segments. J Biomech 20:235-239, 1987Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Vossoughi J, Weizsacker HE, Vaishnav RM: Variation of aortic geometry in various animal species. Biomed Tech 30:48-54, 1985Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Xie JP, Liu SQ, Yang RF, Fung YC: The zero-stress state of rat veins and vena cava. J Biomech Eng 113:36-41, 1991Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Omens JH: Left ventricular strain in the no-load state due to the existence of residual stress. PhD thesis. Department of Bioengineering, San Diego, University of California, 1988Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Omens JH, Fung YC: Residual strain in the rat left ventricle. Circ Res 66:37-45, 1990Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Han HC, Zhao L, Liao D, Huang M, Huang Y: Mechanical changes of autogenous vein grafts postsurgery. In Proceedings World Congress on Biomechanics 2, Vol. 1. Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 1994, p 28 (abstract)Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Han HC, Fung YC: Residual strains in porcine and canine trachea. J Biomech 24:307-315, 1991Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Hansen I, Gregersen H: Morphometry and residual strain in the porcine ureter. Scand J Urol Nephrol 33:10-16, 1999Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Greenwald S, Moore J, Rachev A, Kane T, Meister JJ: Experimental investigation of the distribution of residual strains in the artery wall. J Biomech Eng 119:438-444, 1997Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Rachev A: Theoretical study of the effect of stress-dependent remodeling on arterial geometry under hypertensive conditions. J Biomech 30:819-827, 1997Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Rachev A, Greenwald S, Kane T, Moore JE Jr, Meister JJ: Analysis of the strain and stress distribution in the wall of the developing and mature aorta. Biorheology 32:473-485, 1995Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Rachev A, Stergiopulos N, Meister JJ: Theoretical study of dynamics of arterial wall remodeling in response to changes in blood pressure. J Biomech 29:635-642, 1996Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Gregersen H, Kassab GS: Biomechanics of the gastrointestinal tract. Neurogastroenterol Motil 8:277-297, 1996Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Gregersen H, Kassab GS, Pallencaoe E, Lee C, Chien S, Skalak R, Fung YC: Morphometry and strain distribution in guinea pig duodenum with reference to the zero-stress state. Am J Physiol 273:G865-G874, 1997Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Fung YC: Biomechanics: Motion, flow, stress, and growth. New York, Springer-Verlag, 1990Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Badylak SF, Lantz GC, Coffey AC, Geddes LA: Small intestinal submucosa as a large diameter vascular graft in the dog. J Surg Res 47:74-80, 1989Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Yu Q, Zhou J, Fung YC: Neutral axis location in bending and Young's modulus of different layers of arterial wall. Am J Physiol 265:H52-H60, 1993Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Han HC, Fung YC: Direct measurement of transverse residual strains in aorta. Am J Physiol 270:H750-H759, 1996Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Gregersen H, Lee TC, Chien S, Skalak R, Fung YC: Strain distribution in the layered wall of the esophagus. J Biomech Eng 121:442-448, 1999Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Gregersen H, Lee C, Chien S, Fung YC: Oesophageal morphometry and zero-stress state in transgenic osteogenesis imperfecta mice. Proceedings of the 17th International Symposium of Gastrointestinal Motility. Bruges, Belgium, 1999 (abstract)Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Lu X, Gregersen H: Regional distribution of axial strain and circumferential residual strain in the layered rabbit esophagus. J Biomech 2000 (in press)Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Orberg J, Baer E, Hiltner J: Organization of collagen fibers in the intestine. Connect Tissue Res 11:285-297, 1982Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Takamizawa K, Hayashi K: Strain energy density function and uniform strain hypothesis for arterial mechanics. J Biomech 20:7-17, 1987Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Gao C, Zhao J, Gregersen H: Histomorphometry and strain distribution in pig duodenum with reference to the zero-stress state. J Biomech 33:1089-1097, 2000Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Dou Y, Zhao J, Gregersen H: Morphology and stress-strain distribution along small intestine in the rat. J Biomech Eng 2000 (in press)Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Bayliss VM, Starling EH: The movements and innervation of the small intestine. J Physiol 26:125-138, 1901.Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Stegle M-L, Ehrlein H-J: Effects of various agents on ileal postprandial motor patterns and transit of chyme in dogs. Am J Physiol 257:G698-G703, 1989Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Kellow JE, Borody TJ, Phillips SF, Tucker RL, Haddad RC: Human interdigestive motility: Variations in patterns from esophagus to colon. Gastroenterology 91:386-395, 1986Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Johnson LR, Christensen J, Jackson MJ, Jacobson ED, Walsh JH (eds): Physiology of the Gastrointestinal Tract, 3rd ed. New York, Raven Press, 1994Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Gabella G: Structure of Muscles and Nerves in the Gastrointestinal Tract. In Physiology of the Gastrointestinal Tract. LR Johnson, J Christensen, MJ Jackson, ED Jacobson, JH Walsh (eds). New York, Raven Press. 1987, pp 335-382.Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Murakami H, Takeda T, Kawaga K, Morita H, Tanaka S, Hosomi H: The role of extrinsic nervous system in jenunal absorption during elevation of intraluminal pressure in anesthetized dogs. J Auton Nerv System 51:237-244, 1995Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Grundy D: Mechanoreceptors in the gastrointestinal tract. J Smooth Muscle Res 29:37-46, 1993Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Rodriquez EK, Hoger A, McCulloch AD: Stress-dependent finite growth in soft elastic tissues. J Biomech 27:455-467, 1994Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Nowak TV, Harrington B, Weisbruch JP, Kalbfleish JH: Structural and functional characteristics of muscle from diabetic rodent small intestine. Am J Physiol 258:G690-G698, 1990Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    Schulze-Delrieu K, Brown B, Herman B, Brown CK, Lawrence D, Shirazi S, Palimieri T, Raab J: Preservation of peristaltic reflex in hypertrophied ileum of guinea-pig. Am J Physiol 269:G49-G59, 1995Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Fung YC: Biomechanics: Mechanical Properties of Living Tissue. New York, Springer-Verlag, 1993Google Scholar
  51. 51.
    Hill AV: First and last experiments in muscle mechanics. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1970Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. Gregersen
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • G.S. Kassab
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Y.C. Fung
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Center of Sensory-Motor InteractionAalborg UniversityDenmark
  2. 2.Department of Abdominal SurgeryAalborg HospitalDenmark
  3. 3.Department of BioengineeringUniversity of CaliforniaSan Diego

Personalised recommendations