Abstract

Blood vessels are much stiffer than brain parenchyma and their effects in finite element (FE) brain models need to be investigated. Despite the publication of some comprehensive three-dimensional (3D) brain vasculature models, no mechanical model exists for the mouse brain vasculature. Moreover, how the vasculature affects the mechanical behavior of brain tissue remains controversial. Therefore, we developed FE mouse brain models with detailed 3D vasculature to investigate the effect of the vasculature on brain strains under both diffuse (closed-head impact) and focal injury (controlled cortical impact (CCI)) loading, two commonly laboratory models of traumatic brain injury. The effect of the vasculature was examined by comparing maximum principal strain in mouse brain FE models with and without the vasculature. On average, modeling comprehensive vasculature under diffuse injury loading reduced average brain strain predictions by 32% with nonlinear elastic properties. Nearly three-fourths of the 32% strain reduction was attributable to the effects of the major branches of the vasculature. Meanwhile, during focal open-skull CCI injury loading, the contribution of the vasculature was limited, producing a less than 5% reduction in all cases. Overall, the vasculature, especially the major branches, increased the load-bearing capacity of the brain FE model and thus reduced brain strain predictions.

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