Mathematical modelling of PulmonaryArterial Smooth Muscle Cell Subtypes

  • Haroon Arshad

Student thesis: Phd


Alteration in the tone of pulmonary arteries may lead to disease such as pulmonary hypertension often associated with major cardiac complications. This dysfunction is partly in the pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cells (PASMCs) where the excitation-contraction coupling is modified by ion channel behaviour to increase the contractile force. Mathematical models of systemic smooth muscle cells (SMCs) that incorporate electrophysiological and chemomechanical mechanisms to understand the underlying cellular physiology have been successfully employed. Models of pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cells (PASMCs) are only beginning to emerge. Mathematical model prototyping with available experimental data and model investigation from different parameter values is a time-consuming and complex process.This thesis is concerned with the development and validation of mathematical models of excitation-contraction coupling in three types of PASMCs of the rat species, one homogeneous type originating from the distal pulmonary arteries and two from proximal pulmonary arteries. Some key novel additions from previous vascular SMC models include the distinct modelling of Ca2+ in the subplasmalemmal cytosolic region, incorporation of subunit-specific currents from the K+ channel family and a generic G-protein receptor model able to reproduce complex Ca2+ profiles. The main pulmonary and systemic arteries statistically differ in its response to phenylephrine in a wire myograph. The ionic currents of the models were validated against experimental data largely from rat species. The models replicate the recordings of Ca2+ and the resting potential (Em) profiles arising from agonist-induced cytosolic Ca2+ ([Ca2+]i) stimulation (G-protein activation), nifedipine, ryanodine, caffeine and niflumic acid. The distal PASMC model was sensitive to an increase in [Ca2+]i from G-protein activation although were less likely to reproduce Ca2+ oscillations than proximal PASMCs. The proximal models determined the likely proximal PASMC type in literature experiments recording [Ca2+]i and Em. I have developed software that enables other users to simulate Ca2+ and Em changes in SMC studies and the ability to parse a master file describing the mathematical model into different language formats to increase productivity. These models provide a foundation for further studies to better understand PASMC function in the context of normal physiology as well as pathological conditions.
Date of Award1 Aug 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorHenggui Zhang (Supervisor) & Paolo Tammaro (Supervisor)


  • model
  • computational
  • single-cell
  • smooth muscle
  • modelling
  • mathematical
  • pulmonary

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