Assessment of cerebrovascular responses to physiological stimuli in identical twins using multimodal imaging and computational fluid dynamics

Hannah J. Thomas, Usaid Rana, Channa E. Marsh, Harrison T. Caddy, Lachlan J. Kelsey, Kurt J. Smith, Daniel J. Green, Barry J. Doyle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

There is acknowledged variability in the Circle of Willis (CoW) in the general population, yet the structure and function relationship of the cerebrovasculature is poorly understood. We aimed to demonstrate the feasibility of combining high-resolution imaging techniques and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to describe cerebrovascular structure and function in vivo. We tested our methodology by examining the null hypothesis that monozygotic twins (18-30 yr) would exhibit similar CoW structure and function. Six twin pairs underwent 3T magnetic resonance angiography of the head and neck and B-mode Doppler ultrasound for velocity and diameter recordings in the vertebral and internal carotid arteries under three conditions (rest, hypercapnia, and exercise). Artery diameter, length, tortuosity, and bifurcation angle were assessed in regions of interest of the CoW. We simulated hemodynamics to determine the cardiac-cycle time-averaged wall shear stress (TAWSS), oscillatory shear index (OSI), and relative residence time (RRT). We observed low and insignificant intraclass correlations (ICC) between twins in all regions for diameter (ICC range 0.000-0.657, P > 0.05), two of four regions for length (ICC range 0.355-0.368, P > 0.05), all regions for tortuosity (ICC range 0.270-0.505, P > 0.05), and all bifurcation angles (ICC range 0.000-0.547, P > 0.05). Similarly, no significant correlations were apparent for cerebral blood flow or CFD-derived measures of TAWSS, OSI, and RRT, at rest or in response to hypercapnia or exercise. Therefore, differences exist in CoW structure and associated shear stress in response to physiological stimulation. These data suggest that the structure, function, and health of cerebrovascular arteries are not primarily genetically dependent.NEW & NOTEWORTHY There is acknowledged variability in the Circle of Willis in the general population, yet the structure and function relationship of the cerebrovasculature is poorly understood. Using a combination of magnetic resonance imaging, high-resolution Doppler ultrasound, and computational fluid dynamic modeling, we show that monozygotic twins exhibit differences in cerebrovascular structure and function when exposed to physiological stimuli. These data suggest that the morphology, function, and health of cerebrovascular arteries are not primarily genetically determined.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1024-1032
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of applied physiology (Bethesda, Md. : 1985)
Volume129
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2020

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