Development of a globally optimised model of the cerebral arteries

Keelan, Jonathan; Chung, Emma and Hague, James (2019). Development of a globally optimised model of the cerebral arteries. Physics in Medicine and Biology, 64(12), article no. 125021.



The cerebral arteries are difficult to reproduce from first principles, featuring interwoven territories, and intricate layers of grey and white matter with differing metabolic demand. The aim of this study was to identify the ideal configuration of arteries required to sustain an entire brain hemisphere based on minimisation of the energy required to supply the tissue. The 3D distribution of grey and white matter within a healthy human brain was first segmented from Magnetic Resonance Images. A novel simulated annealing algorithm was then applied to determine the optimal configuration of arteries required to supply brain tissue. The model is validated through comparison of this ideal, entirely optimised, brain vasculature with the known structure of real arteries. This establishes that the human cerebral vasculature is highly optimised; closely resembling the most energy efficient arrangement of vessels. In addition to local adherence to fluid dynamics optimisation principles, the optimised vasculature reproduces global brain perfusion territories with well defined boundaries between anterior, middle and posterior regions. This validated brain vascular model and algorithm can be used for patient-specific modelling of stroke and cerebral haemodynamics, identification of sub-optimal conditions associated with vascular disease, and optimising vascular structures for tissue engineering and artificial organ design.

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