Exposure to shear stress alters endothelial adhesiveness: Role of nitric oxide

Philip S. Tsao, Neil P. Lewis, Susan Alpert, John P. Cooke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

153 Scopus citations


Background: Shear stress increases the release of nitric oxide (NO) by endothelial cells (ECs). We and others have provided evidence that endothelium derived NO inhibits monocyte adhesion to the vessel wall. We therefore hypothesized that previous exposure to shear stress would inhibit endothelial adhesiveness for monocytes by virtue of its effect to increase NO release. Methods and Results: Confluent monolayers of bovine aortic endothelial cells, human aortic endothelial cells, or human venous endothelial cells were exposed to laminar fluid flow. Culture media were collected for measurement of NO (by chemiluminescence) and the prostacyclin metabolite 6-keto-prostaglandin F(1a), NO, and 6-keto-prostaglandin F(lo) accumulated in the conditioned medium during laminar fluid flow from 30 minutes to 24 hours in a time-dependent fashion. In another set of studies, ECs previously exposed to flow or to static conditions were washed with Hanks' buffer and exposed to THP-1 cells for 30 minutes. Adherent cells were counted by microscopy. Previous exposure to flow reduced endothelial adhesiveness for monocytes by 50% (P<.05). The effect of flow on endothelial adhesiveness occurred within 30 minutes. This effect was abrogated by nitro- L-arginine (an antagonist of NO synthesis), as well as by tetraethylammonium ion (an antagonist of the flow-activated potassium channel); the effects of these inhibitors were reversed by the NO donor SPM-5185. Although the cyclo- oxygenase inhibitor indomethacin totally inhibited the flow-induced production of prostacyclin by ECs, it minimally affected adherence of THP-1 cells. The early effect of flow on endothelial adhesiveness was not mediated by alterations in the expression of the endothelial adhesion molecules VCAM- 1 or ICAM-1 as assessed by fluorescent activated cell sorting. Conclusions: Shear stress alters endothelial adhesiveness for monocytes; at early time points, this effect is largely due to flow-stimulated release of NO and, to a lesser extent, prostacyclin. This effect of flow occurs within 30 minutes and is probably due to alterations in the signal transduction or activation state (rather than the expression) of endothelial adhesion molecules.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3513-3519
Number of pages7
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 15 1995


  • atherosclerosis
  • endothelium-derived factors
  • flow
  • leukocytes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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