Calcium is a universal signaling molecule with a central role in a number of vascular functions including in the regulation of tone and blood flow. Experimentation has provided insights into signaling pathways that lead to or affected by Ca(2+) mobilization in the vasculature. Mathematical modeling offers a systematic approach to the analysis of these mechanisms and can serve as a tool for data interpretation and for guiding new experimental studies. Comprehensive models of calcium dynamics are well advanced for some systems such as the heart. This review summarizes the progress that has been made in modeling Ca(2+) dynamics and signaling in vascular cells. Model simulations show how Ca(2+) signaling emerges as a result of complex, nonlinear interactions that cannot be properly analyzed using only a reductionist's approach. A strategy of integrative modeling in the vasculature is outlined that will allow linking macroscale pathophysiological responses to the underlying cellular mechanisms.
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