Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor's Name

Nikolaos Tsoukias

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Anthony McGoron

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Jessica Ramella-Roman

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Malek Adjouadi

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fifth Advisor's Name

Sharan Ramaswamy

Fifth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


Microcirculation, Calcium Signaling, Mathematical Modeling, Smooth Muscle Cell, Endothelial Cell, TRPV4, Nitric Oxide, Calcium Waves, Vasomotion

Date of Defense



Microcirculatory vessels are lined by endothelial cells (ECs) which are surrounded by a single or multiple layer of smooth muscle cells (SMCs). Spontaneous and agonist induced spatiotemporal calcium (Ca2+) events are generated in ECs and SMCs, and regulated by complex bi-directional signaling between the two layers which ultimately determines the vessel tone. The contractile state of microcirculatory vessels is an important factor in the determination of vascular resistance, blood flow and blood pressure. This dissertation presents theoretical insights into some of the important and currently unresolved phenomena in microvascular tone regulation. Compartmental and continuum models of isolated EC and SMC, coupled EC-SMC and a multi-cellular vessel segment with deterministic and stochastic descriptions of the cellular components were developed, and the intra- and inter-cellular spatiotemporal Ca2+ mobilization was examined.

Coupled EC-SMC model simulations captured the experimentally observed localized subcellular EC Ca2+ events arising from the opening of EC transient receptor vanilloid 4 (TRPV4) channels and inositol triphosphate receptors (IP3Rs). These localized EC Ca2+ events result in endothelium-derived hyperpolarization (EDH) and Nitric Oxide (NO) production which transmit to the adjacent SMCs to ultimately result in vasodilation. The model examined the effect of heterogeneous distribution of cellular components and channel gating kinetics in determination of the amplitude and spread of the Ca2+ events. The simulations suggested the necessity of co-localization of certain cellular components for modulation of EDH and NO responses. Isolated EC and SMC models captured intracellular Ca2+ wave like activity and predicted the necessity of non-uniform distribution of cellular components for the generation of Ca2+ waves. The simulations also suggested the role of membrane potential dynamics in regulating Ca2+ wave velocity. The multi-cellular vessel segment model examined the underlying mechanisms for the intercellular synchronization of spontaneous oscillatory Ca2+ waves in individual SMC.

From local subcellular events to integrated macro-scale behavior at the vessel level, the developed multi-scale models captured basic features of vascular Ca2+ signaling and provide insights for their physiological relevance. The models provide a theoretical framework for assisting investigations on the regulation of vascular tone in health and disease.





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