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Atherosusceptible Shear Stress Activates Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress to Promote Endothelial Inflammation.


Atherosclerosis impacts arteries where disturbed blood flow renders the endothelium susceptible to inflammation. Cytokine activation of endothelial cells (EC) upregulates VCAM-1 receptors that target monocyte recruitment to atherosusceptible regions. Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress elicits EC dysregulation in metabolic syndrome. We hypothesized that ER plays a central role in mechanosensing of atherosusceptible shear stress (SS) by signaling enhanced inflammation. Aortic EC were stimulated with low-dose TNFα (0.3 ng/ml) in a microfluidic channel that produced a linear SS gradient over a 20mm field ranging from 0-16 dynes/cm2. High-resolution imaging of immunofluorescence along the monolayer provided a continuous spatial metric of EC orientation, markers of ER stress, VCAM-1 and ICAM-1 expression, and monocyte recruitment. VCAM-1 peaked at 2 dynes/cm2 and decreased to below static TNFα-stimulated levels at atheroprotective-SS of 12 dynes/cm2, whereas ICAM-1 rose to a maximum in parallel with SS. ER expansion and activation of the unfolded protein response also peaked at 2 dynes/cm2, where IRF-1-regulated VCAM-1 expression and monocyte recruitment also rose to a maximum. Silencing of PECAM-1 or key ER stress genes abrogated SS regulation of VCAM-1 transcription and monocyte recruitment. We report a novel role for ER stress in mechanoregulation at arterial regions of atherosusceptible-SS inflamed by low-dose TNFα.

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