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      Wall Shear Stress – an Important Determinant of Endothelial Cell Function and Structure – in the Arterial System in vivo


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          It has been well established that wall shear stress is an important determinant of endothelial cell function and gene expression as well as of its structure. There is increasing evidence that low wall shear stress, as pres- ent in artery bifurcations opposite to the flow divider where atherosclerotic lesions preferentially originate, expresses an atherogenic endothelial gene profile. Besides, wall shear stress regulates arterial diameter by modifying the release of vasoactive mediators by endothelial cells. Most of the studies on the influence of wall shear stress on endothelial cell function and structure have been performed in vitro, generally exposing endothelial cells from different vascular regions to an average wall shear stress level calculated according to Poiseuille’s law, which does not hold for the in vivo situation, assuming wall shear stress to be constant along the arterial tree. Also in vivo wall shear stress has been determined based upon theory, assuming the velocity profile in arteries to be parabolic, which is generally not the case. Wall shear stress has been calculated, because of the lack of techniques to assess wall shear stress in vivo. In recent years, techniques have been developed to accurately assess velocity profiles in arterioles, using fluorescently labeled particles as flow tracers, and non-invasively in large arteries by means of ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging. Wall shear rate is derived from the in vivo recorded velocity profiles and wall shear stress is estimated as the product of wall shear rate and plasma viscosity in arterioles and whole blood viscosity in large arteries. In this review, we will discuss wall shear stress in vivo, paying attention to its assessment and especially to the results obtained in both arterioles and large arteries. The limitations of the methods currently in use are discussed as well. The data obtained in the arterial system in vivo are compared with the theoretically predicted ones, and the consequences of values deviating from theory for in vitro studies are considered. Applications of wall shear stress as in flow-mediated arterial dilation, clinically in use to assess endothelial cell (dys)function, are also addressed. This review starts with some background considerations and some theoretical aspects.

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          Most cited references61

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          The relationship between shear stress and flow-mediated dilatation: implications for the assessment of endothelial function.

          Endothelium-dependent flow-mediated dilatation (FMD) describes the vasodilatory response of a vessel to elevations in blood flow-associated shear stress. Nitric oxide (NO), one of many vasoactive substances released by the endothelium in response to shear stress, is of particular interest to researchers as it is an antiatherogenic molecule, and a reduction in its bioavailability may play a role in the pathogenesis of vascular disease. The goal of many human studies is to create a shear stress stimulus that produces an NO-dependent response in order to use the FMD measurements as an assay of NO bioavailability. The most common non-invasive technique is the 'reactive hyperaemia test' which produces a large, transient shear stress profile and a corresponding FMD. Importantly, not all FMD is NO mediated and the stimulus creation technique is a critical determinant of NO dependence. The purpose of this review is to (1) explain that the mechanisms of FMD depend on the nature of the shear stress stimulus (stimulus response specificity), (2) provide an update to the current guidelines for FMD assessment, and (3) summarize the issues that surround the clinical utility of measuring both NO- and non-NO-mediated FMD. Future research should include (1) the identification and partitioning of mechanisms responsible for FMD in response to various shear stress profiles, (2) investigation of stimulus response specificity in coronary arteries, and (3) investigation of non-NO FMD mechanisms and their connection to the development of vascular disease and occurrence of cardiovascular events.
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            On connecting large vessels to small. The meaning of Murray's law

            TF Sherman (1981)
            A large part of the branching vasculature of the mammalian circulatory and respiratory systems obeys Murray's law, which states that the cube of the radius of a parent vessel equals the sum of the cubes of the radii of the daughters. Where this law is obeyed, a functional relationship exists between vessel radius and volumetric flow, average linear velocity of flow, velocity profile, vessel-wall shear stress, Reynolds number, and pressure gradient in individual vessels. In homogeneous, full-flow sets of vessels, a relation is also established between vessel radius and the conductance, resistance, and cross- sectional area of a full-flow set.
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              Interrelations between brachial endothelial function and carotid intima-media thickness in young adults: the cardiovascular risk in young Finns study.

              Endothelial vasodilator dysfunction and carotid intima-media thickening (IMT) are 2 indicators of subclinical cardiovascular disease. We examined their correlation and interaction with risk factors in a large, community-based cohort of young adults. As part of the longitudinal Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study, we measured endothelium-dependent brachial artery flow-mediated dilatation (FMD) and carotid artery IMT by ultrasound in 2109 healthy adults aged 24 to 39 years. FMD was inversely associated with IMT (P 0.2). Brachial FMD is inversely associated with carotid IMT. The number of risk factors in young adults is correlated with increased IMT in subjects with evidence of endothelial dysfunction, but not in subjects with preserved endothelial function. These observations suggest that endothelial dysfunction is an early event in atherosclerosis and that the status of systemic endothelial function may modify the association between risk factors and atherosclerosis.

                Author and article information

                J Vasc Res
                Journal of Vascular Research
                S. Karger AG
                May 2006
                17 May 2006
                : 43
                : 3
                : 251-269
                Departments of aPhysiology and bBiophysics, Cardiovascular Research Institute Maastricht, University of Maastricht, Maastricht, The Netherlands
                91648 J Vasc Res 2006;43:251–269
                © 2006 S. Karger AG, Basel

                Copyright: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be translated into other languages, reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, microcopying, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in government regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug. Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor(s). The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.

                : 28 August 2005
                : 17 December 2005
                Page count
                Figures: 1, Tables: 3, References: 122, Pages: 19
                Research Paper

                General medicine,Neurology,Cardiovascular Medicine,Internal medicine,Nephrology
                Velocity tracers,Velocity profiles,Viscosity,Non-invasive vascular ultrasound,Wall shear rate,Ultrasound,MRI,Wall shear stress,Poiseuille’s law,Endothelial cell function


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