Viscosity and haemodynamics in a late gestation rat feto-placental arterial network

Bappoo Nikhilesh, Lachlan J Kelsey, Louis Parker, Tim Crough, Carmel Moran, Adrian J W Thomson, Megan Holmes, Caitlin Wyrwoll, Barry Doyle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The placenta is a transient organ which develops during pregnancy to provide haemotrophic
support for healthy fetal growth and development. Fundamental to its function is the healthy
development of vascular trees in the feto-placental arterial network. Despite the strong
association of haemodynamics with vascular remodelling mechanisms, there is a lack of
computational haemodynamic data that may improve our understanding of feto-placental
physiology. The aim of this work was to create a comprehensive 3D computational fluid
dynamics (CFD) model of a substructure of the rat feto-placental arterial network and
investigate the influence of viscosity on wall shear stress (WSS).
Late gestation rat feto-placental arteries were perfused with radiopaque Microfil and scanned
via micro computed tomography (μCT) to capture rat feto-placental arterial geometry in 3D. A
detailed description of rat fetal blood viscosity parameters was developed and three different
approaches to feto-placental haemodynamics were simulated in 3D using the finite volume
method: Newtonian model, non-Newtonian Carreau-Yasuda model and Fåhræus-Lindqvist
effect model.
Significant variability in WSS was observed between different viscosity models. The
physiologically-realistic simulations using the Fåhræus-Lindqvist effect and rat fetal blood
estimates of viscosity revealed detailed patterns of WSS throughout the arterial network, with
WSS gradients observed at bifurcation regions, which may contribute to vessel sprouting and
pruning during angiogenesis.
This simulation of feto-placental haemodynamics shows the heterogeneous WSS distribution
throughout the network and demonstrates the ability to determine physiologically-relevant
WSS magnitudes, patterns and gradients. This model will help advance our understanding of
vascular physiology and remodelling in the feto-placental network.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBiomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology
Early online date3 Mar 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Mar 2017


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