Nature Research, Scientific Reports, 1(11), 2021
AbstractEx vivo characterisation of arterial biomechanics enables detailed discrimination of the various cellular and extracellular contributions to arterial stiffness. However, ex vivo biomechanical studies are commonly performed under quasi-static conditions, whereas dynamic biomechanical behaviour (as relevant in vivo) may differ substantially. Hence, we aim to (1) develop an integrated set-up for quasi-static and dynamic biaxial biomechanical testing, (2) quantify set-up reproducibility, and (3) illustrate the differences in measured arterial stiffness between quasi-static and dynamic conditions. Twenty-two mouse carotid arteries were mounted between glass micropipettes and kept fully vasodilated. While recording pressure, axial force (F), and inner diameter, arteries were exposed to (1) quasi-static pressure inflation from 0 to 200 mmHg; (2) 300 bpm dynamic pressure inflation (peaking at 80/120/160 mmHg); and (3) axial stretch (λz) variation at constant pressures of 10/60/100/140/200 mmHg. Measurements were performed in duplicate. Single-point pulse wave velocities (PWV; Bramwell-Hill) and axial stiffness coefficients (cax = dF/dλz) were calculated at the in vivo value of λz. Within-subject coefficients of variation were ~ 20%. Dynamic PWVs were consistently higher than quasi-static PWVs (p < 0.001); cax increased with increasing pressure. We demonstrated the feasibility of ex vivo biomechanical characterisation of biaxially-loaded murine carotid arteries under pulsatile conditions, and quantified reproducibility allowing for well-powered future study design.