Endothelial Cells Response to Hemodynamic Forces
Endothelial cells (ECs), which form the inner lining of blood vessels, are exposed to hemodynamic forces of the flowing blood and respond distinctly to the nature of these forces’ and their magnitude. Using advanced microscopic methodologies, the ECs response to flow conditions is studied in a controlled environment, with the goal of establishing quantitative cause-effect relationships between flow and ECs response under both normal and pathological conditions.
Vascular remodeling is a complex biological process resulting in modified blood vessels structure and properties. It occurs during development and maturity, and under normal (e.g., growth, exercise) and pathologic conditions (e.g., wound healing, hypertension, atherosclerosis, tumor progression, diabetic retinopathy). Hemodynamic forces of the flowing blood either initiate or are important mediators in these remodeling processes.
Endothelial cells (ECs) are of central importance in this process. Being in contact with the flowing blood, they are exquisitely sensitive sensors and transducers of hemodynamic forces. In so doing, ECs themselves remodel, structurally and functionally. Despite significant progress, the specific responses of EC to different types of in vivo loading (shear stress, pressure and stress induced stretch), and their composite effects, are still insufficiently understood. Focusing on the cytoskeleton (CSK) which is both the cell structural frame and a major mechano-transducer, we developed a novel experimental platform for systematic study of the effects of hemodynamic forces on the CSK of cultured arterial ECs, in terms of their morphology, mechanical properties, spontaneous nano-motion and ultra-structure. The long term impact of the research will be to elucidate the roles of CSK in ECs remodeling and to establish knowledge-base for novel targeted interventions aimed at athero-protection.