Impact of spatial and temporal stability of flow vortices on vascular endothelial cells.
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PURPOSE: Intracranial aneurysms (IAs) are pathological dilations of cerebrovascular vessels due to degeneration of the mechanical strength of the arterial wall, precluded by altered cellular functionality. The presence of swirling hemodynamic flow (vortices) is known to alter vascular endothelial cell (EC) morphology and protein expression indicative of IAs. Unfortunately, less is known if vortices with varied spatial and temporal stability lead to differing levels of EC change. The aim of this work is to investigate vortices of varying spatial and temporal stability impact on ECs. METHODS: Vortex and EC interplay was investigated by a novel combination of parallel plate flow chamber (PPFC) design and computational analysis. ECs were exposed to laminar (7.5 dynes/[Formula: see text] wall shear stress) or low (<1 dynes/[Formula: see text]) stress vortical flow using PPFCs. Immunofluorescent imaging analyzed EC morphology, while ELISA tests quantified VE-cadherin (cell-cell adhesion), VCAM-1 (macrophage-EC adhesion), and cleaved caspase-3 (apoptotic signal) expression. PPFC flow was simulated, and vortex stability was calculated via the temporally averaged degree of (volume) overlap (TA-DVO) of vortices within a given area. RESULTS: EC morphological changes were independent of vortex stability. Increased stability promoted VE-cadherin degradation (correlation coefficient r = [Formula: see text]0.84) and 5-fold increased cleaved caspase-3 post 24 h in stable (TA-DVO 0.7360.05) vs unstable (TA-DVO 0.606[Formula: see text]0.2) vortices. ECs in stable vortices displayed a 4.5-fold VCAM-1 increase than unstable counterparts after 12 h. CONCLUSION: This work demonstrates highly stable disturbed flow imparts increased inflammatory signaling, degraded cell-cell adhesion, and increased cellular apoptosis than unstable vortices. Such knowledge offers novel insight toward understanding IA development and rupture.