The Adaptive Response of Endothelial Cells to Shear Stress Alteration

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Repository Usage Stats



The adaptive response of vascular endothelial cells to shear stress alteration induced by global hemodynamic changes is an essential component of normal endothelial physiology in vivo; and an understanding of the transient regulation of endothelial phenotype during adaptation will advance our understanding of endothelial biology and yield new insights into the mechanism of atherogenesis. The objective of this study was to characterize the adaptive response of arterial endothelial cells to acute increases in shear stress magnitude and frequency in well-defined in vitro settings. Porcine endothelial cells were preconditioned by a basal level shear stress of ±15dynes/cm^2 at 1 Hz for 24 hours, and an acute increase in shear stress magnitude (30 ±15 dynes/cm^2) or frequency (2 Hz) was then applied. Endothelial permeability to bovine serum albumin was measured and gene expression profiling was performed using microarrays at multiple time points during a period of 6 hours after the shear stress alteration. The instantaneous endothelial permeability was found to increase rapidly in response to the acute increase in shear stress magnitude. Endothelial permeability nearly doubled after 40 minutes exposure to the elevated shear magnitude, and then decreased gradually. However, less dependency of endothelial permeability on shear stress frequency was observed. Endothelial permeability increased slowly from 120 minutes to 6 hours after exposure to the elevated shear frequency, but the increase was not statistically significant and was relatively small (1.2 fold increase at 6 hours). The transcriptomics studies identified 86 genes that were sensitive to the elevated shear magnitude and 37 genes sensitive to the elevated frequency. A significant number of the identified genes are previously unknown as sensitive to shear stress. The acute increase in shear magnitude promoted the expression of a group of anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative genes; while the acute increase in shear frequency upregulated a set of cell-cycle regulating genes and angiogenesis genes. The adaptive response of global gene expression profile to the elevated shear magnitude is found to be triphasic, consisting of an induction period, an early adaptive response (ca. 45 minutes) and a late remodeling response. However, no apparent temporal regulation pattern of global gene expression was found during the adaptation to the elevated shear frequency. The results from this dissertation suggest that endothelial cells exhibit a specific phenotype during the adaptive response to changes in shear stress; and the transient phenotype is different than that of fully-adapted endothelial cells and may alter arterial atherosusceptibility.





Zhang, Ji (2010). The Adaptive Response of Endothelial Cells to Shear Stress Alteration. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from


Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.