Publication: Research - peer-review › Journal article – Annual report year: 2012
The structure of vascular networks adapts continuously to meet changes in demand of the surrounding tissue. Most of the known vascular adaptation mechanisms are based on local reactions to local stimuli such as pressure and flow, which in turn reflects influence from the surrounding tissue. Here we present a simple two-dimensional model in which, as an alternative approach, the tissue is modeled as a porous medium with intervening sharply defined flow channels. Based on simple, physiologically realistic assumptions, flow-channel structure adapts so as to reach a configuration in which all parts of the tissue are supplied. A set of model parameters uniquely determine the model dynamics, and we have identified the region of the best-performing model parameters (a global optimum). This region is surrounded in parameter space by less optimal model parameter values, and this separation is characterized by steep gradients in the related fitness landscape. Hence it appears that the optimal set of parameters tends to localize close to critical transition zones. Consequently, while the optimal solution is stable for modest parameter perturbations, larger perturbations may cause a profound and permanent shift in systems characteristics. We suggest that the system is driven toward a critical state as a consequence of the ongoing parameter optimization, mimicking an evolutionary pressure on the system.
|Journal||Frontiers in Physiology|