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Sci Rep. 2019 Apr 15;9(1):6065. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-42302-x.

Oscillatory shear potentiates latent TGF-β1 activation more than steady shear as demonstrated by a novel force generator.

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Cardiovascular Biology Research Program, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF), Oklahoma City, USA.
Department of Engineering and Physics, University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond, OK, USA.
School of Chemical, Biological and Materials Engineering, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK, USA.
Cardiovascular Biology Research Program, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF), Oklahoma City, USA.


Cardiovascular mechanical stresses trigger physiological and pathological cellular reactions including secretion of Transforming Growth Factor β1 ubiquitously in a latent form (LTGF-β1). While complex shear stresses can activate LTGF-β1, the mechanisms underlying LTGF-β1 activation remain unclear. We hypothesized that different types of shear stress differentially activate LTGF-β1. We designed a custom-built cone-and-plate device to generate steady shear (SS) forces, which are physiologic, or oscillatory shear (OSS) forces characteristic of pathologic states, by abruptly changing rotation directions. We then measured LTGF-β1 activation in platelet releasates. We modeled and measured flow profile changes between SS and OSS by computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations. We found a spike in shear rate during abrupt changes in rotation direction. OSS activated TGF-β1 levels significantly more than SS at all shear rates. OSS altered oxidation of free thiols to form more high molecular weight protein complex(es) than SS, a potential mechanism of shear-dependent LTGF-β1 activation. Increasing viscosity in platelet releasates produced higher shear stress and higher LTGF-β1 activation. OSS-generated active TGF-β1 stimulated higher pSmad2 signaling and endothelial to mesenchymal transition (EndoMT)-related genes PAI-1, collagen, and periostin expression in endothelial cells. Overall, our data suggest variable TGF-β1 activation and signaling occurs with competing blood flow patterns in the vasculature to generate complex shear stress, which activates higher levels of TGF-β1 to drive vascular remodeling.

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