Passage dependent changes in nuclear and cytoskeleton structures of endothelial cells under laminar shear stress or cyclic stretch

Yizhi Jiang, Nathaniel Witt, Julie Y. Ji


Background: The ability of vascular endothelium to sense and respond to the mechanical stimuli generated by blood flow is pivotal in maintaining arterial homeostasis. A steady laminar flow tends to provide athero-protective effect via regulating endothelial functions, vascular tone, and further remodeling process. As arterial aging appeared to be an independent risk factor of cardiovascular diseases, it is critical to understand the effects of cell senescence on endothelial dysfunction under dynamic mechanical stimuli.

Methods: In this study, we investigated the morphological responses of aortic endothelial cells toward laminar flow or cyclic stretch. Automated image recognition methods were applied to analyze image data to avoid bias. Differential patterns of morphological adaptations toward distinct mechanical stimuli were observed, and the shear-induced changes were found to be more associated with cell passages than that of cyclic strain.  

Results: Our results demonstrated that the cytoskeleton and nuclear structural adaptations in endothelial cells toward laminar flow were altered over prolonged culture, suggesting that the failure of senescent endothelial cells to adapt to the applied shear stress morphologically could be one of the contributors to endothelial dysfunctions during vascular aging.

Conclusions: Results indicated that cells were able to adjust their cytoskeleton and nuclear alignment and nuclear shapes in response to the applied mechanical stimuli, and that the shear-induced changes were more dependent on PD levels, where cells with higher PDL were more responsive to external forces.


Nucleus, Cytoskeleton, Shear stress, Cyclic stretch, Endothelial cells

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