We have developed a microfluidic shear device that allows for the study of cell communication in a dynamically controlled biochemical and biomechanical environments simulating cells’ living environments in vivo. Such study may help to improve our understanding in the effects of hypertension-relevant and vascular development-relevant flow shear stress on cell behaviors. Endothelial cells may be a key factor for transmitting the blood flow conditions from the endothelial lining to interstitial layers and smooth muscle cells. The interstitial flow stress and the shear stress induced signaling factors may greatly alter vascular biology of these deep layers. Endothelial cells act as a mechano-transducer by converting shear stress into biochemical signaling factors. The biochemical factors diffuse to smooth muscle cells and further alter the biological structure of vascular tissues. Also, the flow shear stress will be transmitted to the interstitial tissue layer through the pores resulted from the pores in the fenestrated endothelial lining. Studies in both the mechano-transduction process and the mechano-transmission process will benefit from a biomimetic flow shear device with co-cultured cells. Our device will allow the co-culture of endothelial cells and smooth muscle cells to study these biomechanical processes. The pulmonary arterial cells are used as a model in the study. The microfluidic device developed here will be used to enhance the understanding of pulmonary vascular disease pathogenesis due to the variations in the flow shear stress.

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