Miguel O. Bernabeu 1 , 2 , Martin L. Jones 3 , Jens H. Nielsen 4 , Timm Krüger 2 , 5 , Rupert W. Nash 2 , Derek Groen 2 , Sebastian Schmieschek 2 , James Hetherington 4 , Holger Gerhardt 3 , Claudio A. Franco 3 , 6 , Peter V. Coveney 2
6 October 2014
There is currently limited understanding of the role played by haemodynamic forces on the processes governing vascular development. One of many obstacles to be overcome is being able to measure those forces, at the required resolution level, on vessels only a few micrometres thick. In this paper, we present an in silico method for the computation of the haemodynamic forces experienced by murine retinal vasculature (a widely used vascular development animal model) beyond what is measurable experimentally. Our results show that it is possible to reconstruct high-resolution three-dimensional geometrical models directly from samples of retinal vasculature and that the lattice-Boltzmann algorithm can be used to obtain accurate estimates of the haemodynamics in these domains. We generate flow models from samples obtained at postnatal days (P) 5 and 6. Our simulations show important differences between the flow patterns recovered in both cases, including observations of regression occurring in areas where wall shear stress (WSS) gradients exist. We propose two possible mechanisms to account for the observed increase in velocity and WSS between P5 and P6: (i) the measured reduction in typical vessel diameter between both time points and (ii) the reduction in network density triggered by the pruning process. The methodology developed herein is applicable to other biomedical domains where microvasculature can be imaged but experimental flow measurements are unavailable or difficult to obtain.