Endothelial cells, which form the inner layer of the vasculature, interact with the extracellular matrix (ECM) by exerting mechanical contractile cell-substrate stress called tractions and cell-cell stresses called intercellular stresses. This cellular mechanical behavior involves many fundamental biological processes, including cell migration, differentiation, angiogenesis, and wound healing. Also, the inner surface of the vasculature, where endothelial cells reside, is constantly exposed to various fluid flows. The most variable fluid flow regimes occur primarily within branching regions of the vasculature. Endothelial cells residing within these regions experience disturbed flow, which consists of irregular flow patterns and extreme wall shear stress gradients. This phenomenon could upregulate endothelial cell signaling and gene expression into the proliferative and pro-inflammatory phase to promote endothelial dysfunction and contributes to the development of vascular diseases such as atherosclerosis, aneurysms, and coronary artery disease. However, the influence of disturbed flow on cellular mechanics has remained unclear. To get a better idea of how disturbed flow may affect traction, intercellular stresses, and various cell morphological parameters, a variety of studies were performed. The first study was conducted with a 3D flow chamber, and endothelial mechanical properties under disturbed flow were measured. The second study was performed with microchannels to visualize tractions differences among different vessel geometries and conditions in the abovementioned pathologies. The results yielded from this work will further our understanding of cellular mechanics under disturbed flow and potentially lead to novel therapeutics for endothelial dysfunction.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Engineering and Computer Science
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Wu, Jingwen, "Probing Endothelial Cell Mechanics Under Disturbed Fluid Flow" (2023). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2020-. 1697.