Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Cells in blood vessel found to cling more tightly in regions of rapid flow

Clogging of pipes leading to the heart is the planet's number one killer. Surgeons can act as medical plumbers to repair some blockages, but we don't fully understand how this living organ deteriorates or repairs itself over time.

Researchers at the University of Washington have studied vessel walls and found the cells pull more tightly together, reducing vascular leakage, in areas of fast-flowing blood. The finding could influence how doctors design drugs to treat high cholesterol, or how cardiac surgeons plan their procedures.

Nathan Sniadecki, University of Washington

A layer of cells that coat the pulmonary artery grown on a bed of silicon microposts. After being exposed to a rapid flow, the cells make tighter junctions and tug more strongly on their neighbors.

Their paper will be published in an upcoming issue of the American Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology.

"Our results indicate that these cells can sense the kind of flow that they’re in, and structurally change how they hold themselves together," said lead author Nathan Sniadecki, a UW assistant professor of mechanical engineering. "This highlights the role that cellular forces play in the progression of cardiovascular disease."

It's known that the arteries carrying blood are leakier in areas of slow flow, promoting cholesterol buildup in those areas. But medical researchers believed this leakage was mostly biochemical – that cells would sense the slower flow and modify how proteins and enzymes function inside the cell to allow for more exchange.

The new results show that, like a group of schoolchildren huddling closer in a gust of wind, the cells also pull more tightly together when the blood is flowing past.

"The mechanical tugging force leads to a biochemical change that allows more and more proteins at the membrane to glue together," Sniadecki said. "We're still trying to understand what's happening here, and how mechanical tugging leads more proteins to localize and glue at the interface."

Sniadecki's group looks at the biomechanics of individual cells. For this experiment, they grew a patch of human endothelial cells, the thin layer of cells that line the inner walls of arteries and veins and act as a sort of nonstick coating for the vessels' walls. They grew the patch on an area about the width of a human hair, manufactured with 25 by 25 tiny flexible silicon posts.

The researchers then looked at how much the cells bent the posts under different flow conditions in order to calculate how strongly the cells were tugging on their neighbors. When the flow was fast, the force between the cells increased, while the gaps between cells shrank.

Knowing how cells respond to blood flow could help find new drugs to promote this tugging between cells. Better understanding of the interaction between blood flow and heart health could also guide surgeries.

"People could do simulations so a surgeon goes, ‘Ah, I should cut here versus over here, because that reconstruction will be a smoother vessel and will lead to fewer complications down the line, or as I put this stent in, put it here and make it more aerodynamic in design,'" Sniadecki said.

Co-authors are Lucas Ting, Joon Jung, Benjamin Shuman, Shirin Feghhi, Sangyoon Han, Marita Rodriguez in the UW's department of mechanical engineering, and Jessica Jahn at UW Medicine.

The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the UW Medical Student Research Training Program and the UW Royalty Research Fund.

For more information, contact Sniadecki at 206-685-6591 or

Hannah Hickey | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>