Middle cerebral artery structure and distensibility during developing and established phases of hypertension in the spontaneously hypertensive rat

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The aims of the current study were to examine the structural properties of middle cerebral arteries (MCA) from young (5–7 weeks) and adult (20–24 weeks) spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR), compared with age-matched Wistar–Kyoto (WKY) control rats.


MCA segments (8–10 per group) were secured onto glass pipettes in a small vessel chamber and studied using a pressure arteriograph system. Vessels were perfused in Ca2+-free physiological salt solution to ensure the absence of tone. The wall thickness and lumen diameter were recorded at intraluminal pressures ranging from 3 to 180 mmHg using a video dimension analyser.


There was a borderline increase in systolic pressure of the young SHR, compared with WKY controls, but the systolic pressure of the older SHR was significantly raised. The MCA lumen diameter from young SHR was reduced across the entire pressure range and arterial distensibility was not reduced, compared with WKY vessels. The MCA lumen diameter from adult SHR was reduced at high pressure, but converged with the lumen diameter of the WKY vessels at 3 mmHg, and the stress–strain relation was shifted to the left, compared with the WKY vessels; nevertheless, the slope of the tangential elastic modulus–stress relation was not significantly increased. The pressure–wall cross-sectional area relationship did not differ between strains at either time point.


These data demonstrate eutrophic inward remodelling of the MCA from young SHR, compared with WKY controls. In the adult SHR the structural changes are probably a consequence of a reduced arterial distensibility.

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