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Drug News Perspect. 2002 Apr;15(3):133-139.

Atheroprotective Mechanisms Activated by Fluid Shear Stress in Endothelial Cells.


Atherosclerosis preferentially occurs in areas of turbulent flow and low fluid shear stress, while laminar flow and high shear stress are atheroprotective. Well characterized atheroprotective mechanisms include inhibition of thrombosis (increased tissue-type plasminogen activator and decreased plasminogen activator inhibitor-1), inhibition of endothelial cell apoptosis, limitation of permeability (uptake of low-density lipoprotein), prevention of white blood cell binding and transmigration (no expression of adhesion molecules such as intercellular adhesion molecule-1 [ICAM-1] and vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 [VCAM-1] and no release of monocyte chemotactic protein-1) and increased bioavailability of nitric oxide (because of increased expression of endothelial nitric oxide synthase and manganese superoxide dismutase). Our lab has investigated flow-mediated inhibition of inflammatory cytokine action. In particular, we have shown that flow prevents tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) mediated signal transduction. TNF regulates inflammatory gene expression (e.g., ICAM-1 and VCAM-1) in endothelial cells, in part, by stimulating mitogen activated protein (MAP) kinases that phosphorylate transcription factors. We hypothesized that fluid shear stress inhibits TNF inflammatory effects on endothelial cells by inhibiting TNF mediated activation of the c-Jun N-terminal kinase. To test this hypothesis, we determined the effects of steady laminar flow on TNF-stimulated activity of c-Jun N-terminal kinase. The results show that flow inhibits c-Jun N-terminal kinase activation through multiple mechanisms, including stimulation of counter-regulatory MAP kinases (extracellular signal regulated kinases [ERK]1/2 and ERK5) and inhibition of apoptosis signal-regulated kinase. In summary, the atheroprotective effects of steady laminar flow on the endothelium involve multiple synergistic mechanisms. These multiple mechanisms offer attractive targets for new drug therapies aimed at limiting atherosclerosis development and progression. (c) 2002 Prous Science. All rights reserved.

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