Large arteries (especially the aorta) lose elasticity and thicken with aging and as a consequence of other conditions, thus leading to central arterial stiffening and associated adverse effects on blood flow and pressure. Arterial stiffness can be defined and measured in different ways, at a local level or systemically. Increases in either the intrinsic (material) stiffness or net structural (combined geometric and material) arterial stiffness, or both, can increase the velocity at which the pressure pulse travels along the arterial tree and central pulse pressure, which can negatively impact downstream resistance vessels and organs (ie, heart, brain, and kidney). Clarifying temporal and causal relationships between arterial stiffening and hypertension was identified by NHLBI as an important gap of knowledge, with a potential for clinical translation. NIH (National Institutes of Health)-funded studies, more than half of them supported by the NHLBI (Online Figure), have investigated various aspects of arterial stiffening in humans and in experimental models. To enable a more focused research effort on this topic, NHLBI launched a Request for Applications (RFA) HL-10-027, entitled Cellular and Molecular Mechanisms of Arterial Stiffening and Its Relationship to Development of Hypertension (R01). This initiative supported 11 R01 awards during 2010 to 2015 (Online Table II; cumulative ≈$20 million dollars in total costs), which represented a significant component of the overall NHLBI investment in this field. Here, we report a summary of important scientific findings that resulted from this NHLBI-initiated research effort, constituting the basis of >200 original research and review articles (Online Table II), some highlighted here, many conference presentations, and several patents.
- Blood pressure
- Cardiovascular disease