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J Clin Invest. 1997 Dec 1;100(11):2909-14.

Impaired flow-induced dilation in mesenteric resistance arteries from mice lacking vimentin.

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Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM) U 141, IFR 6 (Circulation-Lariboisière), Hôpital Lariboisière, Paris, France.


The intermediate filament vimentin might play a key role in vascular resistance to mechanical stress. We investigated the responses to pressure (tensile stress) and flow (shear stress) of mesenteric resistance arteries perfused in vitro from vimentin knockout mice. Arteries were isolated from homozygous (Vim-/-, n = 14) or heterozygous vimentin-null mice (Vim+/-, n = 5) and from wild-type littermates (Vim+/+, n = 9). Passive arterial diameter (175+/-15 micron in Vim+/+ at 100 mmHg) and myogenic tone were not affected by the absence of vimentin. Flow-induced (0-150 microl/min) dilation (e. g., 19+/-3 micron dilation at 150 mmHg in Vim+/+) was significantly attenuated in Vim-/- mice (13+/-2 micron dilation, P < 0.01). Acute blockade of nitric oxide synthesis (NG-nitro- L-arginine, 10 microM) significantly decreased flow-induced dilation in both groups, whereas acute blockade of prostaglandin synthesis (indomethacin, 10 microM) had no significant effect. Mean blood pressure, in vivo mesenteric blood flow and diameter, and mesenteric artery media thickness or media to lumen ratio were not affected by the absence of vimentin. Thus, the absence of vimentin decreased selectively the response of resistance arteries to flow, suggesting a role for vimentin in the mechanotransduction of shear stress.

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