Mechanical and Morphological Properties of Arterial Resistance Vessels in Young and Old Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats

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Abstract

SUMMARY

We studied alterations in structural and mechanical properties of mesenteric arterial resistance vessels from young (6-week) and old (50-week) spontaneously hypertensive (SHR) and matched normotensive Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) rats. Emphasis was placed upon relating the active tension capabilities of these vessels to their smooth muscle cell content. Cylindrical segments, 0.7 mm long with internal diameters of 150 μm, were mounted in a myograph capable of recording circumferential vessel wall tension and dimensions. Comparisons of vessel morphology and mechanics were performed at a normalized internal circumference, L1, where active tension (AT1) is near maximum. Arterial wall and medial hypertrophy were observed in young and old SHR. Since the percent smooth muscle cells within the media for SHR was similar to that of WKY, both increased smooth muscle cell and connective tissue content account for the medial hypertrophy. These differences in SHR vessels were reflected directly in their passive and active mechanical properties. Fully relaxed vessels from SHR were less compliant, and upon activation at Li (high potassium depolarization), AT, was not different for young SHR and WKY, but values for old SHR were 35% greater (P < 0.05) than for WKY. When relating the active force generation of the vessel to the actual smooth muscle cell area, values for smooth muscle cell stress (force/area) were similar for SHR and WKY at both ages. In addition, similarities were observed for active dynamic mechanical measurements of Young's modulus and half response time. Genetic hypertension in rats therefore appears to be associated with the development of increased vessel contractility determined by a greater number of smooth muscle cells which possess contractile properties similar to those of normotensive vessels. Ore Res 45: 250-259, 1979

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