Author(s): Feihl F, Liaudet L, Levy BI, Waeber B
In the present review, microvascular remodelling refers to alterations in the structure of resistance vessels contributing to elevated systemic vascular resistance in hypertension. We start with some historical aspects, underscoring the importance of Folkow's contribution made half a century ago. We then move to some basic concepts on the biomechanics of blood vessels, and explicit the definitions proposed by Mulvany for specific forms of remodelling, especially inward eutrophic and inward hypertrophic. The available evidence for the existence of remodelled resistance vessels in hypertension comes next, with relatively more weight given to human, in comparison with animal data. Mechanisms are discussed. The impact of antihypertensive drug treatment on remodelling is described, again with emphasis on human data. Some details are given on the three studies to date which point to remodelling of subcutaneous resistance arteries as an independent predictor of cardiovascular risk in hypertensive patients. We terminate by considering the potential role of remodelling in the pathogenesis of end-organ damage and in the perpetuation of hypertension.