Adaptive Remodeling in the Elastase-Induced Rabbit Aneurysms

C. Sang, D. F. Kallmes, R. Kadirvel, M. J. Durka, Y. H. Ding, D. Dai, S. C. Watkins, A. M. Robertson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Rupture of brain aneurysms is associated with high fatality and morbidity rates. Through remodeling of the collagen matrix, many aneurysms can remain unruptured for decades, despite an enlarging and evolving geometry. Objective: Our objective was to explore this adaptive remodeling for the first time in an elastase induced aneurysm model in rabbits. Methods: Saccular aneurysms were created in 22 New Zealand white rabbits and remodeling was assessed in tissue harvested 2, 4, 8 and 12 weeks after creation. Results: The intramural principal stress ratio doubled after aneurysm creation due to increased longitudinal loads, triggering a remodeling response. A distinct wall layer with multi-directional collagen fibers developed between the media and adventitia as early as 2 weeks, and in all cases by 4 weeks with an average thickness of 50.6 ± 14.3 μm. Collagen fibers in this layer were multi-directional (AI = 0.56 ± 0.15) with low tortuosity (1.08 ± 0.02) compared with adjacent circumferentially aligned medial fibers (AI = 0.78 ± 0.12) and highly tortuous adventitial fibers (1.22 ± 0.03). A second phase of remodeling replaced circumferentially aligned fibers in the inner media with longitudinal fibers. A structurally motivated constitutive model with both remodeling modes was introduced along with methodology for determining material parameters from mechanical testing and multiphoton imaging. Conclusions: A new mechanism was identified by which aneurysm walls can rapidly adapt to changes in load, ensuring the structural integrity of the aneurysm until a slower process of medial reorganization occurs. The rabbit model can be used to evaluate therapies to increase aneurysm wall stability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)263-283
Number of pages21
JournalExperimental Mechanics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • Animal model
  • Axial loading
  • Cerebral aneurysm
  • Collagen remodeling
  • Constitutive modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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