Send to

Choose Destination
Eur Phys J E Soft Matter. 2015 Feb;38(2):96. doi: 10.1140/epje/i2015-15012-9. Epub 2015 Feb 26.

Multi-scale undulations in human aortic endothelial cell fibers.

Author information

Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, Florida State University, 32310, Tallahassee, FL, USA.


Blood vessels often have an undulatory morphology, with excessive bending, kinking, and coiling occuring in diseased vasculature. The underlying physical causes of these morphologies are generally attributed, in combination, to changes in blood pressure, blood flow rate, and cell proliferation or apoptosis. However, pathological vascular morphologies often start during developmental vasculogenesis. At early stages of vasculogenesis, angioblasts (vascular endothelial cells that have not formed a lumen) assemble into primitive vessel-like fibers before blood flow occurs. If loose, fibrous aggregates of endothelial cells can generate multi-cellular undulations through mechanical instabilities, driven by the cytoskeleton, new insight into vasculature morphology may be achieved with simple in vitro models of endothelial cell fibers. Here we study mechanical instabilities in vessel-like structures made from endothelial cells embedded in a collagen matrix. We find that endothelial cell fibers contract radially over time, and undulate at two dominant wavelengths: approximately 1cm and 1mm. Simple mechanical models suggest that the long-wavelength undulation is Euler buckling in rigid confinement, while the short-wavelength buckle may arise from a mismatch between fiber bending energy and matrix deformation. These results suggest a combination of fiber-like geometry, cystoskeletal contractions, and extracellular matrix elasticity may contribute to undulatory blood vessel morphology in the absence of a lumen or blood pressure.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Springer
Loading ...
Support Center