Fluid Shear Stress Control of Vascular Smooth Muscle

  • John M. Tarbell
  • Mete Civelek
  • Jeff S. Garanich


In addition to neural and humoral signals, vascular smooth muscle cells (SMC) sense the mechanical environment that is imposed upon them by hemodynamic forces generated in the vascular system. The traditional view of mechanical forces and the vascular system has been that endothelial cells (EC), which line all blood vessels, sense primarily the shear stress of flowing blood on their lumenal surface (e.g. 28), whereas SMC, which lie within the wall and are normally shielded from the direct shearing forces of blood flow, sense the solid mechanical stress (hoop stress) or strain (stretch) driven by blood pressure (e.g. 102). But, it is clear that EC also experience solid mechanical stress and strain associated with vessel distension in response to the pressure pulse and are influenced by these forces (29). Perhaps less obvious is the fact that SMC, in their normal physiological environment, experience significant levels of fluid shear stress associated with transmural interstitial flow driven by the transvascular pressure differential. In addition, in cases of vascular injury, SMC may be directly exposed to the fluid shearing forces of blood flow. The nature and magnitude of these fluid mechanical forces on SMC and their pathophysiological consequences provide the focus for this review. In order to maintain a sense of balance, however, we also describe, albeit briefly, the solid mechanical environment of SMC and the influence of tissue stress and strain on SMC function.


Shear Stress Smooth Muscle Cell Vascular Smooth Muscle Cell Wall Shear Stress Intimal Hyperplasia 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag France 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • John M. Tarbell
    • 1
  • Mete Civelek
    • 1
  • Jeff S. Garanich
    • 1
  1. 1.Departments of Chemical Engineering and BioengineeringThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUSA

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