Cell Biochemistry and Biophysics

, Volume 38, Issue 3, pp 323–343 | Cite as

Differential responsiveness of vascular endothelial cells to different types of fluid mechanical shear stress

  • Abdul I. Barakat
  • Deborah K. Lieu
Review Article


Early atherosclerotic lesions localize preferentially, in arterial regions exposed to low flow, oscillatory flow, or both; however, the cellular basis of this observation remains to be determined. Atherogenesis involves dysfunction of the vascular endothelium, the cellular monolayer lining the inner surfaces of blood vessels. How low flow, oscillatory flow, or both may lead to endothelial dysfunction remains unknown. Over the past two decades, fluid mechanical shear (or frictional) stress has been shown to intricately regulate the structure and function of vascular endothelial cells (ECs). Furthermore, recent data indicate that beyond being merely responsive to shear stress, ECs are able to distinguish among and respond differently to different types of shear stress. This review focuses on EC differential responses to different types of steady and unsteady shear stress and discusses the implications of these responses for the localization of early atherosclerotic lesions. The mechanisms by which endothelial differential responsiveness to different types of flow may occur are also discussed.

Index Entries

Shear stress endothelium mechanotransduction atherosclerosis hemodynamics 


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© Humana Press Inc 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mechanical and Aeronautical EngineeringUniversity of CaliforniaDavis

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