It is now established that endothelial cells acquire several functional properties in response to a diverse array of extracellular stimuli. This expression of an altered phenotype is referred to as endothelial cell activation, and it includes several activities that promote inflammation and coagulation. While it is recognized that endothelial cell activation has a principal role in host defense, recent studies also demonstrate that endothelial cells are capable of complex molecular responses that protect the endothelium against various forms of stress including heat shock, hypoxia, oxidative stress, shock, ischemia-reperfusion injury, toxins, wounds, and mechanical stress. In this review, we examine endothelial cell genotypic and phenotypic responses to stress. Also, we highlight important cellular stress responses that, although not yet demonstrated directly in endothelial cells, likely exist as part of the repertoire of stress responses in endothelium. A detailed understanding of the molecular mechanisms mediating the adaptive responses of endothelial cells to stress should facilitate the development of novel therapeutics to aid in the management of diverse surgical diseases and their complications.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.