Biomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology

, Volume 17, Issue 5, pp 1405–1414 | Cite as

Endothelial cells on an aged subendothelial matrix display heterogeneous strain profiles in silico

  • J. C. Kohn
  • T. Abdalrahman
  • K. L. Sack
  • C. A. Reinhart-King
  • T. FranzEmail author
Original Paper


Within the artery intima, endothelial cells respond to mechanical cues and changes in subendothelial matrix stiffness. Recently, we found that the aging subendothelial matrix stiffens heterogeneously and that stiffness heterogeneities are present on the scale of one cell length. However, the impacts of these complex mechanical micro-heterogeneities on endothelial cells have not been fully understood. Here, we simulate the effects of matrices that mimic young and aged vessels on single- and multi-cell endothelial cell models and examine the resulting cell basal strain profiles. Although there are limitations to the model which prohibit the prediction of intracellular strain distributions in alive cells, this model does introduce mechanical complexities to the subendothelial matrix material. More heterogeneous basal strain distributions are present in the single- and multi-cell models on the matrix mimicking an aged artery over those exhibited on the young artery. Overall, our data indicate that increased heterogeneous strain profiles in endothelial cells are displayed in silico when there is an increased presence of microscale arterial mechanical heterogeneities in the matrix.


Endothelial cell Cell stretch Finite element model Arterial stiffness Subendothelial matrix Aging 



The research reported in this publication was supported by the National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa (UID 93542) and the South African Medical Research Council (MRC) under a Self-initiated Research Grant (SIR 328148). Views and opinions expressed are not those of the NRF or MRC but of the authors. Further support was also provided by the National Science Foundation in the USA (Grant 1738345). J.C. Kohn was supported through the Whitaker International Program.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Nancy E. and Peter C. Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering, College of EngineeringCornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  2. 2.Division of Biomedical Engineering, Department of Human BiologyUniversity of Cape TownObservatorySouth Africa
  3. 3.Department of Biomedical Engineering, School of EngineeringVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  4. 4.Bioengineering Science Research Group, Engineering Sciences, Faculty of Engineering and the EnvironmentUniversity of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK

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