Since fluid dynamics plays a critical role in vascular remodeling, quantification of the hemodynamics is crucial to gain more insight into this complex process. Better understanding of vascular development can improve prediction of the process, and may eventually even be used to influence the vascular structure. In this study, a methodology to quantify hemodynamics and network structure of developing vascular networks is described. The hemodynamic parameters and topology are derived from detailed local blood flow velocities, obtained by in vivo micro-PIV measurements. The use of such detailed flow measurements is shown to be essential, as blood vessels with a similar diameter can have a large variation in flow rate. Measurements are performed in the yolk sacs of seven chicken embryos at two developmental stages between HH 13+ and 17+. A large range of flow velocities (1 µm/s to 1 mm/s) is measured in blood vessels with diameters in the range of 25-500 µm. The quality of the data sets is investigated by verifying the flow balances in the branching points. This shows that the quality of the data sets of the seven embryos is comparable for all stages observed, and the data is suitable for further analysis with known accuracy. When comparing two subsequently characterized networks of the same embryo, vascular remodeling is observed in all seven networks. However, the character of remodeling in the seven embryos differs and can be non-intuitive, which confirms the necessity of quantification. To illustrate the potential of the data, we present a preliminary quantitative study of key network topology parameters and we compare these with theoretical design rules.
As an emerging flow-mapping tool that can penetrate deep into optically opaque media such as human tissue, ultrasound imaging velocimetry has promise in various clinical applications. Previous studies have shown that errors occur in velocity estimation, but the causes have not been well characterised. In this study, the error in velocity estimation resulting from ultrasound beam sweeping in image acquisition is quantitatively investigated. The effects on velocity estimation of the speed and direction of beam sweeping relative to those of the flow are studied through simulation and experiment. The results indicate that a relative error in velocity estimation of up to 20% can be expected. Correction methods to reduce the errors under steady flow conditions are proposed and evaluated. Errors in flow estimation under unsteady flow are discussed.
Endothelial cells (EC) translate biomechanical forces into functional and phenotypic responses that play important roles in cardiac development. Specifically, EC in areas of high shear stress, i.e., in the cardiac outflow tract and atrioventricular canal, are characterized by high expression of Krüppel-like factor 2 (Klf2) and by transforming growth factor-beta (Tgf?)-driven endothelial-to-mesenchymal transition. Extraembryonic venous obstruction (venous clip model) results in congenital heart malformations, and venous clip-induced alterations in shear stress-related gene expression are suggestive for an increase in cardiac shear stress. Here, we study the effects of shear stress on Klf2 expression and Tgf?-associated signaling in embryonic EC in vivo using the venous clip model and in vitro by subjecting cultured EC to fluid flow. Cellular responses were assessed by analysis of Klf2, Tgf? ligands, and their downstream signaling targets. Results show that, in embryonic EC, shear stress activates Tgf?/Alk5 signaling and that induction of Klf2 is an Alk5 dependent process.
The zebrafish embryo is a small, cheap, whole-animal model which may replace rodents in some areas of research. Unfortunately, zebrafish embryos are commonly cultured in microtitre plates using cell-culture protocols with static buffer replacement. Such protocols are highly invasive, consume large quantities of reagents and do not readily permit high-quality imaging. Zebrafish and rodent embryos have previously been cultured in static microfluidic drops, and zebrafish embryos have also been raised in a prototype polydimethylsiloxane setup in a Petri dish. Other than this, no animal embryo has ever been shown to undergo embryonic development in a microfluidic flow-through system. We have developed and prototyped a specialized lab-on-a-chip made from bonded layers of borosilicate glass. We find that zebrafish embryos can develop in the chip for 5 days, with continuous buffer flow at pressures of 0.005-0.04 MPa. Phenotypic effects were seen, but these were scored subjectively as minor. Survival rates of 100% could be reached with buffer flows of 2 µL per well per min. High-quality imaging was possible. An acute ethanol exposure test in the chip replicated the same assay performed in microtitre plates. More than 100 embryos could be cultured in an area, excluding infrastructure, smaller than a credit card. We discuss how biochip technology, coupled with zebrafish larvae, could allow biological research to be conducted in massive, parallel experiments, at high speed and low cost.
Imaging-based blood flow measurement techniques, such as particle image velocimetry, have become an important tool in cardiovascular research. They provide quantitative information about blood flow, which benefits applications ranging from developmental biology to tumor perfusion studies. Studies using these methods can be classified based on whether they use artificial tracers or red blood cells to visualize the fluid motion. We here present the first direct comparison in vivo of both methods. For high magnification cases, the experiments using red blood cells strongly underestimate the flow (up to 50% in the present case), as compared to the tracer results. For medium magnification cases, the results from both methods are indistinguishable as they give the same underestimation of the real velocities (approximately 33%, based on in vitro reference measurements). These results suggest that flow characteristics reported in literature cannot be compared without a careful evaluation of the imaging characteristics. A method to predict the expected flow averaging behavior for a particular facility is presented.
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