Arterial Remodeling of the Intracranial Arteries in Patients With Hypertension and Controls: A Postmortem Study

van Hespen, Kees M, Mackaaij, Claire, Waas, Ingeborg S E, de Bree, Marloes P, Zwanenburg, Jaco J M, Kuijf, Hugo J, Daemen, Mat J A P, Hendrikse, Jeroen, Hermkens, Dorien M A


Hypertension 77 (1), p. 135-146


The intracranial arteries play a major role in cerebrovascular disease, but arterial remodeling due to hypertension has not been well described in humans. We aimed to quantify this remodeling for: the basilar artery, the vertebral, internal carotid, middle/anterior (inferior)/posterior cerebral, posterior communicating, and superior cerebellar arteries of the circle of Willis. Ex vivo circle of Willis specimens, selected from individuals with (n=24) and without (n=25) a history of hypertension, were imaged at 7T magnetic resonance imaging using a 3-dimensional gradient-echo sequence. Subsequently, histological analysis was performed. We validated the vessel wall thickness and area measurements from magnetic resonance imaging against histology. Next, we investigated potential differences in vessel wall thickness and area between both groups using both techniques. Finally, using histological analysis, we investigated potential differences in arterial wall stiffness and atherosclerotic plaque severity and load. All analyses were unadjusted. Magnetic resonance imaging and histology showed comparable vessel wall thickness (mean difference: 0.04 mm (limits of agreement:-0.12 to 0.19 mm) and area (0.43 mm2 [-0.97 to 1.8 mm2]) measurements. We observed no statistically significant differences in vessel wall thickness and area between both groups using either technique. Histological analysis showed early and advanced atherosclerotic plaques in almost all arteries for both groups. The arterial wall stiffness was significantly higher for the internal carotid artery in the hypertensive group. Concluding, we did not observe vessel wall thickening in the circle of Willis arteries in individuals with a history of hypertension using either technique. Using histological analysis, we observed a difference in vessel wall composition for the internal carotid artery.