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Hypertension. 1998 Aug;32(2):338-45.

Signal transduction of mechanical stresses in the vascular wall.

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  • 1INSERM U141, Paris, France.


The vascular wall is constantly subjected to a variety of mechanical forces in the form of stretch (tensile stress), due to blood pressure, and shear stress, due to blood flow. Alterations in either of these stresses are known to result in vascular remodeling, an adaptation characterized by modified morphology and function of the blood vessels, allowing the vessels to cope with physiological or pathological conditions. The processes involved in vascular remodeling include cellular hypertrophy and hyperplasia, as well as enhanced protein synthesis or extracellular matrix protein reorganization. In vitro studies using vascular cells have attempted to identify the mechanisms behind structural alterations. Possible pathways include ion channels, integrin interaction between cells and the extracellular matrix, activation of various tyrosine kinases (such as c-Src, focal adhesion kinase, and mitogen-activated protein kinases), and autocrine production and release of growth factors. These pathways lie upstream of de novo synthesis of immediate response genes and total protein synthesis, both of which are likely to be involved in the process of vascular remodeling.

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