Visualization of Murine Vascular Remodeling and Blood Flow Dynamics by Ultra-High-Frequency Ultrasound Imaging

Int J Mol Sci. 2022 Oct 31;23(21):13298. doi: 10.3390/ijms232113298.


Vein grafts (VGs) are used to bypass atherosclerotic obstructions and arteriovenous fistulas (AVFs) as vascular access for hemodialysis. Vascular remodeling governs post-interventional arterialization, but may also induce VG and AVF failure. Although the endpoint characteristics of vascular remodeling are known, the in vivo process and the role of blood flow dynamics has not been fully studied. Therefore, here we non-invasively quantify vascular remodeling and blood flow alterations over time in murine VG and AVF models. C57BL/6J (n = 7, chow diet) and atherosclerosis-prone ApoE3*Leiden (n = 7) mice underwent VG surgery. Ultrasound imaging was performed at 3, 7, 14, 21, and 28 days post-surgery. C57BL/6J mice (n = 8) received AVF surgery. Ultrasound imaging was performed at 7 and 14 days post-surgery. The luminal volume increased by 42% in the VGs of C57BL/6J and 38% in the VGs of ApoE3*Leiden mice at 28 days relative to 3 days post-surgery. Longitudinally, an 82% increase in wall volume and 76% increase in outward remodeling was found in the ApoE3*Leiden mice, with a constant wall size in C57BL/6J mice. Proximally, the pulsatility index, resistive index, and peak systolic velocity decreased longitudinally in both groups. Distally, the maximum acceleration increased with 56% in C57BL/6J VGs. Among the AVFs, 50% showed maturation after 7 days, based on a novel flow-criterium of 23 mL/min. Distinct flow patterns were observed at the anastomotic site and inflow artery of the AVFs relative to the control carotid arteries. Vascular remodeling can be quantified by ultra-high-frequency ultrasound imaging over time in complex animal models, via three-dimensional structural parameters and site-specific hemodynamic indices.

Keywords: animal model; arteriovenous fistula failure; in vivo imaging; ultrasound imaging; vascular access; vascular remodeling; vein graft failure.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apolipoprotein E3
  • Arteriovenous Fistula*
  • Arteriovenous Shunt, Surgical* / methods
  • Blood Flow Velocity
  • Hemodynamics / physiology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Renal Dialysis
  • Ultrasonography
  • Vascular Remodeling


  • Apolipoprotein E3