The role of endothelial calcium and nitric oxide in the localisation of atherosclerosis.

Mathematical biosciences

PubMedID: 17070868

Plank MJ, Wall DJ, David T. The role of endothelial calcium and nitric oxide in the localisation of atherosclerosis. Math Biosci. 2007;207(1):26-39.
A mathematical model of endothelial cell calcium signalling and nitric oxide synthesis under flow conditions is presented. The model is coupled to two important environmental stimuli for endothelial cells: the frictional shear stress exerted on the cell membrane by the blood flow; and the binding of adenosine triphosphate in the bloodstream to cell surface receptors. These stimuli are closely linked to haemodynamic flow conditions and are, in general, spatially varying, allowing the cellular response in different regions of the endothelium to be evaluated. This is used to indicate which areas of the artery wall experience reduced bioavailability of nitric oxide, which is a major factor in the onset of atherosclerosis. The model thus directly addresses the key issue of the causative link, and its underlying biochemical mechanisms, between incidence of atherosclerosis and regions of low wall shear stress (WSS). Model results show that intracellular levels of free calcium and endothelial nitric oxide synthase are lower in endothelial cells adjacent to a region of recirculating flow than in cells adjacent to regions of fully developed arterial flow. This will lead to deficient levels of nitric oxide in the recirculation zone and hence a potentially elevated risk of developing atherosclerotic plaque. This is consistent with the observed spatial correlation between atherosclerosis and regions of disturbed blood flow and low WSS, and provides a mechanism for the localisation of the disease to sites such as arterial bifurcations and bends.