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Mathematical modelling of atheroma plaque formation and development in coronary arteries

Myriam Cilla, Estefanía Peña, Miguel A Martínez
Journal of the Royal Society, Interface 2014 January 6, 11 (90): 20130866
Atherosclerosis is a vascular disease caused by inflammation of the arterial wall, which results in the accumulation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, monocytes, macrophages and fat-laden foam cells at the place of the inflammation. This process is commonly referred to as plaque formation. The evolution of the atherosclerosis disease, and in particular the influence of wall shear stress on the growth of atherosclerotic plaques, is still a poorly understood phenomenon. This work presents a mathematical model to reproduce atheroma plaque growth in coronary arteries. This model uses the Navier-Stokes equations and Darcy's law for fluid dynamics, convection-diffusion-reaction equations for modelling the mass balance in the lumen and intima, and the Kedem-Katchalsky equations for the interfacial coupling at membranes, i.e. endothelium. The volume flux and the solute flux across the interface between the fluid and the porous domains are governed by a three-pore model. The main species and substances which play a role in early atherosclerosis development have been considered in the model, i.e. LDL, oxidized LDL, monocytes, macrophages, foam cells, smooth muscle cells, cytokines and collagen. Furthermore, experimental data taken from the literature have been used in order to physiologically determine model parameters. The mathematical model has been implemented in a representative axisymmetric geometrical coronary artery model. The results show that the mathematical model is able to qualitatively capture the atheroma plaque development observed in the intima layer.


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