Confocal Image-Based Computational Modeling of Nitric Oxide Transport in a Rat Mesenteric Lymphatic Vessel
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The lymphatic system plays an important role in protein and solute transport as well as the immune system. Its functionality is vital to proper homeostasis and fluid balance. Lymphatic fluid (lymph) may be propelled by intrinsic (active) vessel pumping or passively. With regard to the former, nitric oxide (NO) is known to play an important role in lymphatic vessel contraction and vasodilation. Lymphatic endothelial cells (LECs) are sensitive to shear and increases in flow have been shown to cause enhanced production of NO by LECs. Additionally, high concentrations of NO have been experimentally observed in the sinus region of mesenteric lymphatic vessels. The goal of this work was to develop a computational flow and mass transfer model using physiologic geometries obtained from confocal images of a rat mesenteric lymphatic vessel to determine the characteristics of NO transport in the lymphatic flow regime. Both steady and unsteady analyses were performed. Steady models were simulated by prescribing fully developed velocity profiles ranging from 0.5 mm s^-1 to 7 mm s^-1 as the inlet boundary conditions. Unsteady simulations were generated using a velocity profile taken from experimental data from in situ experiments with rats. Production of NO was shear-dependent; basal cases using constant production were also generated. Simulations revealed areas of flow stagnation adjacent to the valve leaflets, suggesting the high concentrations observed here experimentally are due to lack of convection in this region. LEC sensitivity was found to alter the concentration of NO in the vessel, and the convective forces were found to profoundly affect the concentration of NO at a Peclet value greater than or equal to approximately 61. The quasi-steady analysis was able to resolve wall shear stress within 0.15% of the unsteady case. However, the percent error between unsteady and quasi-steady conditions was higher for NO concentration (approximately 6.7%).
Wilson, John 1988- (2012). Confocal Image-Based Computational Modeling of Nitric Oxide Transport in a Rat Mesenteric Lymphatic Vessel. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from