Novel methodology for characterizing regional variations in the material properties of murine aortas

Matthew R. Bersi, Chiara Bellini, Paolo Di Achille, Jay D. Humphrey, Katia Genovese, Stéphane Avril

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64 Scopus citations


Many vascular disorders, including aortic aneurysms and dissections, are characterized by localized changes in wall composition and structure. Notwithstanding the importance of histopathologic changes that occur at the microstructural level, macroscopic manifestations ultimately dictate the mechanical functionality and structural integrity of the aortic wall. Understanding structure-function relationships locally is thus critical for gaining increased insight into conditions that render a vessel susceptible to disease or failure. Given the scarcity of human data, mouse models are increasingly useful in this regard. In this paper, we present a novel inverse characterization of regional, nonlinear, anisotropic properties of the murine aorta. Full-field biaxial data are collected using a panoramic-digital image correlation (p-DIC) system. An inverse method, based on the principle of virtual power (PVP), is used to estimate values of material parameters regionally for a microstructurally motivated constitutive relation. We validate our experimental-computational approach by comparing results to those from standard biaxial testing. The results for the nondiseased suprarenal abdominal aorta from apolipoprotein-E null mice reveal material heterogeneities, with significant differences between dorsal and ventral as well as between proximal and distal locations, which may arise in part due to differential perivascular support and localized branches. Overall results were validated for both a membrane and a thick-wall model that delineated medial and adventitial properties. Whereas full-field characterization can be useful in the study of normal arteries, we submit that it will be particularly useful for studying complex lesions such as aneurysms, which can now be pursued with confidence given the present validation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number071005
JournalJournal of Biomechanical Engineering
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016


  • anisotropy
  • aorta
  • constitutive relations
  • digital image correlation
  • structure-function


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