Multiscale, structure-based modeling for the elastic mechanical behavior of arterial walls

Triantafyllos Stylianopoulos, Victor H. Barocas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations


Passive elastic behavior of arterial wall remains difficult to model. Although phenomenological and structural models exist, the question of how the three-dimensional network structure of the collagen in the artery determines its mechanical properties is still open. A model is presented that incorporates a collagen network as well as the noncollagenous material that comprise the artery. The collagen architecture is represented as a network of interconnected fibers, and a neo-Hookean constitutive equation is used to describe the contribution of the noncollagenous matrix. The model is multiscale in that volume-averaging theory is applied to the collagen network, and it is structural in that parameters of the microstructure of the collagen network were considered instead of a macroscopic constitutive law. The computational results provided a good fit to published experimental data for decellularized porcine carotid arteries. The model predicted increased circumferential compliance for increased axial stretch, consistent with previously published reports, and a relatively small sensitivity to open angle. Even at large extensions, the model predicted that the noncollagenous matrix would be in compression, preventing collapse of the collagen network. The incorporation of fiber-fiber interactions led to an accurate model of artery wall behavior with relatively few parameters. The counterintuitive result that the noncollagenous component is in compression during extension and inflation of the tissue suggests that the collagen is important even at small strains, with the noncollagenous components supporting the network, but not resisting the load directly. More accurate representation of the microstructure of the artery wall is needed to explore this issue further.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)611-618
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of biomechanical engineering
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2007


  • Collagen
  • Elastin
  • Finite element method
  • Network


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