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Ann Biomed Eng. 2007 Jul;35(7):1120-30. Epub 2007 Mar 24.

Flow and high affinity binding affect the elastic modulus of the nucleus, cell body and the stress fibers of endothelial cells.

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  • 1Department of Biomedical Engineering, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA.


Cell mechanical properties are important in the adhesion of endothelial cells to synthetic vascular grafts exposed to shear flow. We hypothesized that the local apparent elastic modulus of the nucleus and the cell body would increase to a greater extent for cells adherent via the dual ligand (integrin-fibronectin/avidin-biotin) and exposed to flow, than for cells treated with either ligand alone. High affinity avidin-biotin bonds and in vitro flow exposure were used to improve adhesion to grafts thereby altering the mechanical properties of endothelial cells. Introduction of the dual ligand chemistry at the cell-substrate interface increased the apparent elastic modulus of the cells as compared to cells adherent with the fibronectin-integrin bonds only. Cells cultured on the dual ligand surface exhibited higher elastic moduli of the nucleus and cell body relative to cells cultured on fibronectin alone. Exposure of cells to flow increased the apparent elastic modulus of the cell body, nucleus, and stress fibers of cells adherent to the fibronectin surface. A similar effect was seen for cells adherent to the dual ligand surface, although there was little effect on the elastic modulus of the nucleus. While the dual ligand surface produces an increase in adhesion strength, focal contact area and elastic modulus, the change in elastic modulus after exposure to flow is due only to an increase in stress fibers and not an increase in contact area.

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