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Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2012 Feb 15;302(4):H983-91. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00168.2011. Epub 2011 Dec 2.

Adaptive response of vascular endothelial cells to an acute increase in shear stress magnitude.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA.


The adaptation of vascular endothelial cells to shear stress alteration induced by global hemodynamic changes, such as those accompanying exercise or digestion, is an essential component of normal endothelial physiology in vivo. An understanding of the transient regulation of endothelial phenotype during adaptation to changes in mural shear will advance our understanding of endothelial biology and may yield new insights into the mechanism of atherogenesis. In this study, we characterized the adaptive response of arterial endothelial cells to an acute increase in shear stress magnitude in well-defined in vitro settings. Porcine endothelial cells were preconditioned by a basal level shear stress of 15 ± 15 dyn/cm(2) at 1 Hz for 24 h, after which an acute increase in shear stress to 30 ± 15 dyn/cm(2) was applied. Endothelial permeability nearly doubled after 40-min exposure to the elevated shear stress and then decreased gradually. Transcriptomics studies using microarray techniques identified 86 genes that were sensitive to the elevated shear. The acute increase in shear stress promoted the expression of a group of anti-inflammatory and antioxidative genes. The adaptive response of the global gene expression profile is triphasic, consisting of an induction period, an early adaptive response (ca. 45 min) and a late remodeling response. Our results suggest that endothelial cells exhibit a specific phenotype during the adaptive response to changes in shear stress; this phenotype is different than that of fully adapted endothelial cells.

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