Endothelial fluid shear stress sensing in vascular health and disease

J Clin Invest. 2016 Mar 1;126(3):821-8. doi: 10.1172/JCI83083. Epub 2016 Mar 1.


Endothelial cells transduce the frictional force from blood flow (fluid shear stress) into biochemical signals that regulate gene expression and cell behavior via specialized mechanisms and pathways. These pathways shape the vascular system during development and during postnatal and adult life to optimize flow to tissues. The same pathways also contribute to atherosclerosis and vascular malformations. This Review covers recent advances in basic mechanisms of flow signaling and the involvement of these mechanisms in vascular physiology, remodeling, and these diseases. We propose that flow sensing pathways that govern normal morphogenesis can contribute to disease under pathological conditions or can be altered to induce disease. Viewing atherosclerosis and vascular malformations as instances of pathological morphogenesis provides a unifying perspective that may aid in developing new therapies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Atherosclerosis / physiopathology*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Endothelium, Vascular / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Mechanotransduction, Cellular*
  • Plaque, Atherosclerotic / physiopathology
  • Vascular Remodeling