Computational modeling of the arterial wall based on layer-specific histological data
Arterial walls typically have a heterogeneous structure with three different layers (intima, media, and adventitia). Each layer can be modeled as a fiber-reinforced material with two families of relatively stiff collagenous fibers symmetrically arranged within an isotropic soft ground matrix. In this paper, we present two different modeling approaches, the embedded fiber (EF) approach and the angular integration (AI) approach, to simulate the anisotropic behavior of individual arterial wall layers involving layer-specific data. The EF approach directly incorporates the microscopic arrangement of fibers that are synthetically generated from a random walk algorithm and captures material anisotropy at the element level of the finite element formulation. The AI approach smears fibers in the ground matrix and treats the material as homogeneous, with material anisotropy introduced at the constitutive level by enhancing the isotropic strain energy with two anisotropic terms. Both approaches include the influence of fiber dispersion introduced by fiber angular distribution (departure of individual fibers from the mean orientation) and take into consideration the dispersion caused by fiber waviness, which has not been previously considered. By comparing the numerical results with the published experimental data of different layers of a human aorta, we show that by using histological data both approaches can successfully capture the anisotropic behavior of individual arterial wall layers. Furthermore, through a comprehensive parametric study, we establish the connections between the AI phenomenological material parameters and the EF parameters having straightforward physical or geometrical interpretations. This study provides valuable insight for the calibration of phenomenological parameters used in the homogenized modeling based on the fiber microscopic arrangement. Moreover, it facilitates a better understanding of individual arterial wall layers, which will eventually advance the study of the structure–function relationship of arterial walls as a whole.
arterial walls; angular integration; embedded fiber approach