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Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2017 Mar 1;312(3):H485-H500. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00035.2016. Epub 2016 Dec 23.

Fluid shear stress induces upregulation of COX-2 and PGI2 release in endothelial cells via a pathway involving PECAM-1, PI3K, FAK, and p38.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, City College of New York, New York, New York.
La Jolla Bioengineering Institute, La Jolla, California.
James J. Peters Veteran Affairs Medical Center, Bronx, New York, New York.
Department of Chemical Engineering, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts; and.
Department of Pathology, Louisiana State University, Shreveport, Louisiana.
Department of Biomedical Engineering, City College of New York, New York, New York;


Vascular endothelial cells play an important role in the regulation of vascular function in response to mechanical stimuli in both healthy and diseased states. Prostaglandin I2 (PGI2) is an important antiatherogenic prostanoid and vasodilator produced in endothelial cells through the action of the cyclooxygenase (COX) isoenzymes COX-1 and COX-2. However, the mechanisms involved in sustained, shear-induced production of COX-2 and PGI2 have not been elucidated but are determined in the present study. We used cultured endothelial cells exposed to steady fluid shear stress (FSS) of 10 dyn/cm2 for 5 h to examine shear stress-induced induction of COX-2/PGI2 Our results demonstrate the relationship between the mechanosensor platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule-1 (PECAM-1) and the intracellular mechanoresponsive molecules phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K), focal adhesion kinase (FAK), and mitogen-activated protein kinase p38 in the FSS induction of COX-2 expression and PGI2 release. Knockdown of PECAM-1 (small interference RNA) expression inhibited FSS-induced activation of α5β1-integrin, upregulation of COX-2, and release of PGI2 in both bovine aortic endothelial cells (BAECs) and human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs). Furthermore, inhibition of the PI3K pathway (LY294002) substantially inhibited FSS activation of α5β1-integrin, upregulation of COX-2 gene and protein expression, and release of PGI2 in BAECs. Inhibition of integrin-associated FAK (PF573228) and MAPK p38 (SB203580) also inhibited the shear-induced upregulation of COX-2. Finally, a PECAM-1-/- mouse model was characterized by reduced COX-2 immunostaining in the aorta and reduced plasma PGI2 levels compared with wild-type mice, as well as complete inhibition of acute flow-induced PGI2 release compared with wild-type animals.NEW & NOTEWORTHY In this study we determined the major mechanotransduction pathway by which blood flow-driven shear stress activates cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) and prostaglandin I2 (PGI2) release in endothelial cells. Our work has demonstrated for the first time that COX-2/PGI2 mechanotransduction is mediated by the mechanosensor platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule-1 (PECAM-1).


PECAM-1; cyclooxygenase-2; glycocalyx; integrins; primary cilia; prostaglandin I2; shear stress; syndecan-4

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