Nav: Home

Multiscale modeling reveals key events during early atherosclerotic plaque development

May 25, 2017

A new computational modeling technique could indicate when atherosclerotic plaques will likely undergo rapid growth, reports a study published this week in PLOS Computational Biology.

Atherosclerosis is a form of vascular disease that can result in heart attacks, strokes and gangrene by causing the thickening of artery walls and then narrowing of the arteries themselves at plaque locations. Every year, atherosclerotic plaques rupture and cause millions of deaths worldwide. While patient imaging is advancing and now gives clinicians the ability to detect the geometry and composition of blood vessels, and even the dynamics of blood flow within an artery, the ability to process and interpret such information is still lacking.

Rita Bhui and Heather Hayenga at the University of Texas, Dallas, have developed a three-dimensional computational approach to appropriately capture and integrate crucial spatiotemporal events, in order to predict white blood cell movement from the blood into the artery wall, and the subsequent plaque evolution.

The researchers coupled two computational modeling techniques, agent-based modeling (ABM) and computational fluid dynamics (CFD), in order to simulate the complex phenomena in inflammation-induced atherosclerotic development. This approach provides explanatory insight into the collective behavior of agents, i.e. cells, obeying simple rules. Unlike previous models that only consider biochemical processes or focus on a specific process of the disease, their model reveals how mechanical forces from the blood flow influence white blood cell migration into the artery wall in addition to the effect of biochemical processes occurring within the artery wall.

Using the model the researchers discovered neutrophils, a type of white blood cell, are the primary cell type in the plaque at two timepoints during atherosclerosis: 1) in the beginning and 2) when the plaque starts to restrict the blood flow. Moreover, the model suggests favorable hemodynamics for plaque growth occur in steps rather than linearly. Potential practical applications in knowing how a plaque grows, and the main cell types within the plaque at different stages of growth, could inform clinicians in choosing the most effective treatment plan.

Looking to the future, the research group aims to expand on the model to make it more patient-specific. "One day multiscale modeling of plaque evolution will be used for individualized decision making, such as deciding whether or not to treat a patient's lesion. It will also be foundational in optimizing design and interventional approaches, such as theorizing how an artery will respond to a pharmaceutical agent or stent design," Hayenga says.
This press release is based on text provided by the authors.

In your coverage please use this URL to provide access to the freely available article in PLOS Computational Biology:

Citation: Bhui R, Hayenga HN (2017) An agent-based model of leukocyte transendothelial migration during atherogenesis. PLoS Comput Biol 13(5): e1005523.

Funding: Funding from the American Heart Association Scientist Development Grant (17SDG33400239) to HNH was used to support this work The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.


Related Atherosclerosis Articles:

Running multiple marathons does not increase risk of atherosclerosis
Running multiple marathons does not increase the risk of atherosclerosis, according to research published today in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.
Atherosclerosis: Endogenous peptide lowers cholesterol
Cells of the innate immune system that play an important role in development of atherosclerosis contain a protein that reduces levels of cholesterol in mice -- and thus helps to inhibit or mitigate the disease.
Activation of 2 genes linked to development of atherosclerosis
Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital have found two new potential drug targets for treating arterial diseases such as atherosclerosis.
Promoting regulatory T cell production may help control atherosclerosis
This month in the JCI, work led by Catherine Hedrick at the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology uncovered a pathway that controls the balance between pro-inflammatory and regulatory T cells and may influence the progression of atherosclerosis.
Ring-shaped sugar helps in cases of atherosclerosis
Hardened and inflamed arteries, atherosclerosis, can be very dangerous. The consequences of atherosclerosis are among the most common causes of death in industrialized nations; in particular heart attacks and strokes.
More Atherosclerosis News and Atherosclerosis Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#534 Bacteria are Coming for Your OJ
What makes breakfast, breakfast? Well, according to every movie and TV show we've ever seen, a big glass of orange juice is basically required. But our morning grapefruit might be in danger. Why? Citrus greening, a bacteria carried by a bug, has infected 90% of the citrus groves in Florida. It's coming for your OJ. We'll talk with University of Maryland plant virologist Anne Simon about ways to stop the citrus killer, and with science writer and journalist Maryn McKenna about why throwing antibiotics at the problem is probably not the solution. Related links: A Review of the Citrus Greening...