Good advice for endothelial cells: Get in line, relax tension, and go with the flow. Academic Article uri icon


  • Endothelial cells (ECs) are continuously subjected to fluid wall shear stress (WSS) and cyclic strain caused by pulsatile blood flow and pressure. It is well established that these hemodynamic forces each play important roles in vascular disease, but their combined effects are not well understood. ECs remodel in response to both WSS and cyclic strain to align along the vessel axis, but in areas prone to atherogenesis, such an alignment is absent. In this perspective, experimental and clinical findings will be reviewed, which have revealed the characteristics of WSS and cyclic strain, which are associated with atherosclerosis, spanning studies on whole blood vessels to individual cells to mechanosensing molecules. Examples are described regarding the use of computational modeling to elucidate the mechanisms by which EC alignment contributes to mechanical homeostasis. Finally, the need to move toward an integrated understanding of how hemodynamic forces influence EC mechanotransduction is presented, which holds the potential to move our currently fragmented understanding to a true appreciation of the role of mechanical stimuli in atherosclerosis.

published proceedings

  • APL Bioeng

author list (cited authors)

  • Kaunas, R.

citation count

  • 7

complete list of authors

  • Kaunas, Roland

publication date

  • March 2020