Oscillatory Shear Stress Stimulates Adhesion Molecule Expression in Cultured Human Endothelium

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Low and oscillatory shear stresses are major features of the hemodynamic environment of sites opposite arterial flow dividers that are predisposed to atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a focal inflammatory disease characterized initially by the recruitment of mononuclear cells into the arterial wall. The specific characteristics of the hemodynamic environment that facilitate the generation of arterial inflammatory responses in the presence of, for example, hyperlipidemia are unknown. We show here that prolonged oscillatory shear stress induces expression of endothelial cell leukocyte adhesion molecules, which are centrally important in mediating leukocyte localization into the arterial wall. Vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 was upregulated an average 9-fold relative to endothelial monolayers in static culture. Intercellular adhesion molecule-1 and E-selectin exhibited 11-fold and 7.5-fold increases, respectively. Upregulation of these adhesion molecules was associated with enhanced monocyte adherence. Cytokine stimulation of surface vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 was maximally induced after 6 and 8 hours of cytokine incubation. Oscillatory shear stress for these time periods elicited respective vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 levels of 16% and 30% relative to those observed for cytokine stimulation. Surface intercellular adhesion molecule-1 induction by cytokine stimulation for 24 hours was found to be approximately five times the level detected after 24 hours of oscillatory shear stress. Experiments performed in the presence of the antioxidant N-acetylcysteine demonstrated that the expression of vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 could be almost totally abolished, whereas that of intercellular adhesion molecule-1 was typically reduced by [approximate]70%. These results imply that oscillatory shear stress per se is sufficient to stimulate mononuclear leukocyte adhesion and, presumptively, migration into the arterial wall. These results further indicate that atherosclerotic lesion initiation is likely related, at least in part, to unique signals generated by oscillatory shear stress and that the mechanism of upregulation is, to some extent, redox sensitive. (Circ Res. 1998;82:532-539.)

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