A three-dimensional microengineered human coronary artery-on-a-chip was developed for investigation of the mechanism by which low and oscillatory shear stress (OSS) induces pro-atherogenic changes. Single-cell RNA sequencing revealed that OSS induced distinct changes in endothelial cells (ECs) including pro-inflammatory endothelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EndMT). OSS promoted pro-inflammatory EndMT through the Notch1/p38 MAPK-NF-κB signaling axis. Moreover, OSS-induced EC phenotypic changes resulted in proliferation and extracellular matrix (ECM) protein up-regulation in smooth muscle cells (SMCs) through the RANTES-mediated paracrine mechanism. IL-37 suppressed OSS-induced pro-inflammatory EndMT and thereby abrogated SMC proliferation and ECM protein remodeling. Overall, this study provides insights into endothelial heterogeneity under atheroprone shear stress and identifies the mechanistic role of a novel EC subtype in promoting adverse vascular remodeling. Further, this study demonstrates that anti-inflammatory approach is capable of mitigating vascular pathobiology evoked by atheroprone shear stress.
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