Intracellular pH changes in human aortic smooth muscle cells in response to fluid shear stress. Academic Article uri icon


  • The smooth muscle cell (SMC) layers of human arteries may be exposed to blood flow after endothelium denudation, for example, following balloon angioplasty treatment. These SMCs are also constantly subjected to pressure driven transmural fluid flow. Flow-induced shear stress can alter SMC growth and metabolism. Signal transduction mechanisms involved in these flow effects on SMCs are still poorly understood. In this work, the hypothesis that shear stress alters the intracellular pH (pHi) of SMC is examined. When exposed to venous and arterial levels of shear stress, human aortic smooth muscle cells (hASMC) undergo alkalinization. The alkalinization plateau persisted even after 20 min of cell exposure to flow. Addition of amiloride (10 micromoles) or its 5-(N-ethyl-N-isopropyl) analog (EIPA, 10 micromoles), both Na+/H+ exchanger inhibitors, attenuated intracellular alkalinization, suggesting the involvement of the Na+/H+ exchanger in this response. The same concentrations of these inhibitors did not show an effect on pHi of hASMCs in static culture. 4-Acetamido-4'-isothio-cyanatostilbene-2,2'-disulfonic acid (SITS, 1 mM), a Cl-/HCO3- exchange inhibitor, affected the pHi of hASMCs both in static and flow conditions. Our results suggest that flow may perturb the Na+/H+ exchanger leading to an alkalinization of hASMCs, a different response from the flow-induced acidification seen with endothelial cells at the same levels of shear stress. Understanding the flow-induced signal transduction pathways in the vascular cells is of great importance in the tissue engineering of vascular grafts. In the case of SMCs, the involvement of pHi changes in nitric oxide production and proliferation regulation highlights further the significance of such studies.

published proceedings

  • Tissue Eng

author list (cited authors)

  • Stamatas, G. N., Patrick, C. W., & McIntire, L. V.

citation count

  • 11

complete list of authors

  • Stamatas, GN||Patrick, CW||McIntire, LV

publication date

  • December 1997