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Evidence for a reversal with age in the pattern of near-wall blood flow around aortic branches

      Abstract

      The changes that occur with age in the distribution of atherosclerotic lesions around arterial branch points challenge accepted theories relating disease to haemodynamic stresses. We investigated whether flow near branch points changes with age in a way that can account for the different lesion distributions. Flow around 20 branches from immature and mature aortas was investigated by examining the length:width ratio and orientation of endothelial nuclei; these properties depend on the magnitude and direction of near-wall flows, respectively. There were significant changes in the pattern of nuclear shape with age, consistent with a reversal in the pattern of shear around branches. In control regions away from branches, there were no such changes. The role of haemodynamic stresses in atherogenesis may require re-evaluation in the light of these results.

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