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Sci Rep. 2013;3:1494. doi: 10.1038/srep01494.

Effects of gravitational mechanical unloading in endothelial cells: association between caveolins, inflammation and adhesion molecules.

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Department of Surgery, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA.


Mechanical forces including gravity affect endothelial cell (ECs) function, and have been implicated in vascular disease as well as physiologic changes associated with low gravity environments. The goal of this study was to investigate the impact of gravitational mechanical unloading on ECs phenotype as determined by patterns of gene expression. Human umbilical vascular endothelial cells were exposed to 1-gravity environment or mechanical unloading (MU) for 24 hours, with or without periods of mechanical loading (ML). MU led to a significant decrease in gene expression of several adhesion molecules and pro-inflammatory cytokines. On the contrary, eNOS, Caveolin-1 and -2 expression were significantly increased with MU. There was a decrease in the length and width of the cells with MU. Addition of ML during the MU period was sufficient to reverse the changes triggered by MU. Our results suggest that gravitational loading could dramatically affect vascular endothelial cell function.

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