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Nature. 1984 Feb 16-22;307(5952):648-9.

Induction of human vascular endothelial stress fibres by fluid shear stress.


Endothelial cells of the arterial vascular system and the heart contain straight actin filament bundles, of which there are few, if any, in the venous endothelium. Since stress fibre-containing endothelial cells within the vascular system tend to be located at sites exposed to particularly high shear stress of blood flow, we have investigated, in an experimental rheological system (Fig. 1), the response of the endothelial actin filament skeleton to controlled levels of fluid shear stress. Here we report that endothelial stress fibres can be induced by a 3-h exposure of confluent monolayer cultures of human vascular endothelium to a fluid shear stress of 2 dynes cm-2, approximately the stress occurring in human arteries in vivo. Fourfold lower levels of shear stress that normally occur only in veins, had no significant effect on the endothelial actin filament system. The formation of endothelial stress fibres in response to critical levels of fluid shear stress is probably a functionally important mechanism that protects the endothelium from hydrodynamic injury and detachment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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