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J Vasc Surg. 2003 Jun;37(6):1277-84.

Oscillatory shear stress increases smooth muscle cell proliferation and Akt phosphorylation.

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Department of Surgery, Section of Vascular Surgery, Yale University School of Medicine, 333 Cedar St, FMB 137, New Haven, CT 06520-8062, USA.



Hemodynamic forces affect smooth muscle cell (SMC) proliferation and migration both in vitro and in vivo. However, the effects of oscillatory shear stress (SS) on SMC proliferation and signal transduction pathways that control survival are not well described.


Bovine aortic SMC were exposed to arterial levels of oscillatory SS (14 dyne/cm(2)) with an orbital shaker; control cells were exposed to static conditions (0 dyne/cm(2)). Cell number and (3)[H]thymidine incorporation were measured after 1, 3, or 5 days of SS. Activation of the Akt pathway was assessed with the Western blot technique. Specificity of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) pathway was determined with the Western blot technique with the inhibitors LY294002 (10 micromol/L) or wortmannin (25 nmol/L).


Arterial levels of oscillatory SS increased SMC cell number by 20.1 +/- 3.7% and (3)[H]thymidine incorporation by 33.4% +/- 6.8% at 5 days. To identify whether SS increased activity of the SMC survival pathway, Akt activation was measured. SMC exposed to SS demonstrated increased Akt phosphorylation compared with control cells, with maximal phosphorylation at 60 minutes. Both PI3K inhibitors specifically inhibited the increase in Akt phosphorylation in SMC exposed to oscillatory SS.


SMC directly respond to oscillatory SS by increasing DNA synthesis, proliferation, and activation of the PI3K-Akt signal transduction pathway. These results suggest a mechanism of SMC survival and proliferation in response to endothelial-denuding arterial injury.

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