Arteries exhibit fully nonlinear viscoelastic behaviours (i.e. both elastically and viscously nonlinear). While elastically nonlinear arterial models are well established, effective mathematical descriptions of nonlinear viscoelasticity are lacking. Quasi-linear viscoelasticity (QLV) offers a convenient way to mathematically describe viscoelasticity, but its viscous linearity assumption is unsuitable for whole-wall vascular applications. Conversely, application of fully nonlinear viscoelastic models, involving deformation-dependent viscous parameters, to experimental data is impractical and often reduces to identifying specific solutions for each tested loading condition. The present study aims to address this limitation: By applying QLV theory at the wall constituent rather than at the whole-wall level, the deformation-dependent relative contribution of the constituents allows to capture nonlinear viscoelasticity with a unique set of deformation-independent model parameters. Five murine common carotid arteries were subjected to a protocol of quasi-static and harmonic, pseudo-physiological biaxial loading conditions to characterise their viscoelastic behaviour. The arterial wall was modelled as a constrained mixture of an isotropic elastin matrix and four families of collagen fibres. Constituent-based QLV was implemented by assigning different relaxation functions to collagen- and elastin-borne parts of the wall stress. Nonlinearity in viscoelasticity was assessed via the pressure dependency of the dynamic-to-quasi-static stiffness ratio. The experimentally measured ratio increased with pressure, from 1.03 [Formula: see text] 0.03 (mean [Formula: see text] standard deviation) at 80-40 mmHg to 1.58 [Formula: see text] 0.22 at 160-120 mmHg. Constituent-based QLV captured well this trend by attributing the wall viscosity predominantly to collagen fibres, whose recruitment starts at physiological pressures. In conclusion, constituent-based QLV offers a practical and effective solution to model arterial viscoelasticity.
Keywords: Arterial mechanics; Arterial viscoelastic modelling; Collagen; Constituent-based quasi-linear viscoelastic modelling; Elastin.
© 2023. The Author(s).