Animal Models of Arterial Stiffness

Jeffrey Atkinson

Pharmacology Laboratory, Pharmacy Faculty, UHP-Nancy, Nancy, France

Abstract

Animal models of large artery wall stiffness fall into two categories: firstly those that slowly develop multifactorial vascular dysfunction spontaneously, such as the ageing rat. The second type of model consists of those in which a specific pathology is induced by surgical, chemical, or genetic means. Such models are based on a short-term, highly traumatic insult to the arterial wall of a young animal and its acute reaction to such insult. This is very different from the human situation in which changes in wall stiffness arise from the long-term accumulation of relatively minor episodes of vascular insult in the vulnerable elderly.

Copyright © 2007 S. Karger AG, Basel

In this chapter, I will discuss animal models of human, age-linked arterial wall damage leading to increased wall stiffness. Such animal models generally exhibit diffuse, dilatory, medial arteriosclerotic deterioration, essentially following non-enzymatic, post-transcriptional modification of extracellular matrix proteins rather than focalized obstructive intimal atheroma. In man the two processes - arteriosclerosis and atheroma - often develop simultaneously with age such that a temporal relationship may mask any causal relationship (see later). The pathophysiology and clinical consequences of increased large artery wall stiffness are shown in figure 1.

Cardiovascular morbimortality

Cardiovascular function

Pathophysiological consequences/ Symptoms

Pathophysiological consequences/ Symptoms

Wave reflection

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