The emerging field of mechanobiology, which focuses on biological responses by cells to mechanical stimuli, has revolutionized over the past two decades our understanding of growth and remodelling (G&R) in biological soft tissues. Nevertheless, most current mathematical models in this field suffer from an unsatisfactory experimental foundation and rely in many crucial aspects on heuristic assumptions. Moreover, their relationship to the underlying molecular foundations of mechanobiology remains in many aspects unclear.
In this project, we perform computer-controlled tissue culture experiments to establish the first general mathematical model of vascular G&R whose main assumptions (e.g. mechanobiological homeostasis and mechanobiological stability) will be based directly on relevant experimental observations. These tissue culture experiments – together with complementary in vivo and ex vivo experiments with wild-type and mutant mice – will allow us to relate elements of the said mathematical model to specific micromechanical and molecular mechanisms. The resulting comprehensive multiscale model of vascular mechanobiology will be focused toward computer-aided prognosis of aortic aneurysms in order to provide improved patient-specific predictions of lesion enlargement and rupture risk.