Fluid flow inhibits endothelial adhesiveness: Nitric oxide and transcriptional regulation of VCAM-1

Philip S. Tsao, Ricardo Buitrago, Jason R. Chan, John P. Cooke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

257 Scopus citations


Background: In the arterial trees, regions exposed to reduced shear stress (low and/or disturbed flow) are predisposed to atherogenesis. Fluid flow is a potent stimulus for the release of endothelium-derived nitric oxide (NO). Because NO inhibits monocyte-endothelial cell interaction, we speculated that the effects of flow in inhibiting atherogenesis might be mediated in part by NO. Methods and Results: Confluent monolayers of human aortic endothelial cells were exposed to static or fluid flow conditions for 4 hours. The medium was replaced, and cells were then incubated with native LDL (50 μg/mL), oxidized LDL (30 μg/mL), or lipopolysaccharide (LPS) (10 ng/mL) + tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) (10 U/mL) for an additional 4 hours. Functional binding assays rising THP-1 monocytes were then performed. Superoxide production by human aortic endothelial cells was monitored by lucigenin chemiluminescence, and expression of the adhesion molecules vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) and intercellular adhesion molecule-1 were quantified by flow cytometry. Whereas native LDL had little effect, incubation with either oxidized LDL or LPS/TNF-α significantly increased superoxide production, nuclear factor-κB activity, VCAM-1 expression, and endothelial adhesiveness for monocytes. Previous exposure to fluid flow inhibited these sequelae of exposure to cytokines or oxidized lipoprotein. The effect of fluid flow appears to be due in part to shear- induced release of NO, because coincubation with nitro-L-arginine completely abolished these effects of flow. Furthermore, the NO donor PAPA-NONOate and 8-Br-cGMP (but not 8-Br-cAMP) mimicked the effects of flow. Conclusions: Previous exposure to fluid flow decreased cytokine- or lipoprotein-stimulated endothelial cell superoxide production. VCAM-1 expression, and monocyte binding; the effects of flow appear to be due to NO. Flow-mediated NO- dependent regulation of oxidant-responsive transcription may influence the site of a lesion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1682-1689
Number of pages8
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1996


  • adhesion molecules
  • atherosclerosis
  • blood flow
  • endothelium-derived factors
  • free radicals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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