ABSTRACT: Under physiological conditions, arteries remodel in response to changes in blood flow to maintain local shear stress. Risk factors and developing atherosclerosis may be associated with maladaptive remodeling that produces relatively large arteries with low levels of shear stress. Recent studies have shown that the brachial artery and other peripheral arteries are enlarged in patients with risk factors and cardiovascular disease, and we tested the hypothesis that this finding represents maladaptive remodeling.
We measured brachial artery diameter and flow by ultrasound and calculated shear stress in a diverse cohort of 1583 subjects (age 53+/-17 years, 62% male, and 51% with coronary artery disease and/or peripheral arterial disease). In a stepwise linear regression model, age (P<0.001), gender (P<0.001), body mass index (P<0.001), hypertension (P=0.005), and hypercholesterolemia (P=0.02) were associated with larger brachial diameter. Older age was associated with lower shear stress (P<0.01), consistent with maladaptive remodeling. However, body mass index, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and prevalent atherosclerosis were associated with proportionate changes in blood flow and no difference in shear stress compared to reference groups, suggesting adaptive remodeling.
These findings suggest that enlargement of the brachial artery in the setting of obesity, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and atherosclerosis reflects adaptive remodeling. The results provide further support for the concept that arterial remodeling is an important homeostatic response that is maintained despite the presence of risk factors and developing atherosclerosis.
Arteriosclerosis Thrombosis and Vascular Biology 01/2009; 29(4):606-12. · 6.37 Impact Factor