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Simulating flow induced migration in vascular remodelling

by Ashkan Tabibian, Siavash Ghaffari, Diego A. Vargas, Hans Van Oosterwyck, Elizabeth A. V. Jones

Shear stress induces directed endothelial cell (EC) migration in blood vessels leading to vessel diameter increase and induction of vascular maturation. Other factors, such as EC elongation and interaction between ECs and non-vascular areas are also important. Computational models have previously been used to study collective cell migration. These models can be used to predict EC migration and its effect on vascular remodelling during embryogenesis. We combined live time-lapse imaging of the remodelling vasculature of the quail embryo yolk sac with flow quantification using a combination of micro-Particle Image Velocimetry and computational fluid dynamics. We then used the flow and remodelling data to inform a model of EC migration during remodelling. To obtain the relation between shear stress and velocity in vitro for EC cells, we developed a flow chamber to assess how confluent sheets of ECs migrate in response to shear stress. Using these data as an input, we developed a multiphase, self-propelled particles (SPP) model where individual agents are driven to migrate based on the level of shear stress while maintaining appropriate spatial relationship to nearby agents. These agents elongate, interact with each other, and with avascular agents at each time-step of the model. We compared predicted vascular shape to real vascular shape after 4 hours from our time-lapse movies and performed sensitivity analysis on the various model parameters. Our model shows that shear stress has the largest effect on the remodelling process. Importantly, however, elongation played an especially important part in remodelling. This model provides a powerful tool to study the input of different biological processes on remodelling.

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