Vascular endothelial cells minimize the total force on their nuclei

A. L. Hazel, T. J. Pedley

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The vascular endothelium is a cellular monolayer that lines the arterial walls. It plays a vital role in the initiation and development of atherosclerosis, an occlusive arterial disease responsible for 50% of deaths in the Western world. The focal nature of the disease suggests that hemodynamic forces are an important factor in its pathogenesis. This has led to the investigation of the effects of mechanical forces on the endothelial cells themselves. It has been found that endothelial cells do respond to stresses induced by the flowing blood; in particular, they elongate and align with an imposed flow direction. In this paper, we calculate the distribution of force exerted on a three-dimensional hump, representing the raised cell nucleus, by a uniform shear flow. It is found that, for a nonaxisymmetric ellipsoidal hump, the least total force is experienced when the hump is aligned with the flow. Furthermore, for a hump of fixed volume, there is a specific aspect ratio combination that results in the least total force upon the hump, (0.38:2.2:1.0; height:length:width). This is approximately the same as the average aspect ratio taken up by the cell nuclei in vivo (0.27:2.23:1.0). It is possible, therefore, that the cells respond to the flow in such a way as to minimize the total force on their nuclei.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)47-54
    Number of pages7
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2000


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