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REVIEW ARTICLE
Year : 2015  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 53-62

The role of shear stress and arteriogenesis in maintaining vascular homeostasis and preventing cerebral atherosclerosis


1 Department of Neurology, University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine, Miami, Florida, USA; Department of Systems Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Rome Tor Vergata; Interinstitutional Multidisciplinary Biobank (BioBIM), IRCCS San Raffaele Pisana, Rome, Italy
2 Department of Neurology, University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine, Miami, Florida, USA

Correspondence Address:
Tatjana Rundek
Department of Neurology, Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, Clinical Research Building, CRB 1348, 1120 NW 14th Street, Miami, Florida - 33136

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/2394-8108.164993

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Shear stress (SS) is a biomechanical force that is determined by blood flow, vessel geometry, and fluid viscosity. Although a wide range of known vascular risk factors promote development of atherosclerosis, atherosclerotic changes occur predominately at specific sites within the arterial tree, suggesting a critical role for local factors within the vasculature. Atherosclerotic lesions develop predominantly at branches, bends, and bifurcations in the arterial tree because these sites are exposed to low or disturbed blood flow and low SS. Low SS predisposes arteries to atherosclerosis by causing endothelial dysfunction. A natural system of preexisting cerebral collateral arteries protects against ischemia by bypassing sites of arterial occlusion through a mechanism of arteriogenesis. The main trigger for arteriogenesis is impaired vascular homeostasis (VH) in response to local changes in SS induced by ischemia. VH is a critical process for maintaining the physiological function of cerebral circulation. It is regulated through a complex biological system of blood flow hemodynamic and physiological responses to flow changes. Restoration of VH by increasing arteriogenesis and SS may provide a novel therapeutic target for stroke, especially in the elderly, who are more prone to VH impairment. In this review article, we discuss the mechanisms and structures necessary to maintain VH in brain circulation, the role of SS, and risk factors leading to atherosclerosis, including the effects of aging. We also discuss arteriogenesis as an adaptive and protective process in response to ischemic injury, the imaging techniques currently available to evaluate arterogenesis such as magnetic resonance imaging/positron emission tomography (MRI/PET), and the potential therapeutic approaches against ischemic injury that target arteriogenesis.


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