To investigate the local mechanical forces associated with intravascular pillars and vessel pruning, we studied the conducting vessels in the extraembryonic circulation of the chick embryo. During the development days 13-17, intravascular pillars and blood flow parameters were identified using fluorescent vascular tracers and digital time-series video reconstructions. The geometry of selected vessels was confirmed by corrosion casting and scanning electron microscopy. Computational simulations of pruning vessels suggested that serial pillars form along pre-existing velocity streamlines; blood pressure demonstrated no obvious spatial relationship with the intravascular pillars. Modeling a Reynolds number of 0.03 produced 4 pillars at approximately 20-μm intervals matching the observed periodicity. In contrast, a Reynolds number of 0.06 produced only 2 pillars at approximately 63-μm intervals. Our modeling data indicated that the combination of wall shear stress and gradient of shear predicted the location, direction, and periodicity of developing pillars.
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