Negative regulation of vascular smooth muscle cell migration by blood shear stress

Jeremy Goldman*, Lin Zhong, Shu Q. Liu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Vortex blood flow with reduced blood shear stress in a vein graft has been hypothesized to promote smooth muscle cell (SMC) migration and intimal hyperplasia, pathological events leading to vein graft restenosis. To demonstrate that blood shear stress regulates these processes, we developed a modified vein graft model where the SMC response to reduced vortex blood flow was compared with that of control vein grafts. Vortex blood flow induced SMC migration and neointimal hyperplasia in control vein grafts, whereas reduction of vortex blood flow in the modified vein graft strongly suppressed these effects. A venous polymer implant with known fluid shear stress was employed to clarify the molecular mechanism of shear-dependent SMC migration in vivo. In the polymer implant, the phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK1/2) and myosin light chain kinase (MLCK), found primarily in SMCs, increased from day 3 to day 5 and returned toward the control level from day 5 to day 10, with the peak phosphorylation associated with the maximal speed of SMC migration. Treatment with PD-98059 (an inhibitor specific to the ERK1/2 activator MEK1/2) significantly suppressed the phosphorylation of MLCK, suggesting a role for ERK1/2 in regulating the activity of MLCK. Treatment with PD-98059 or ML-7 (an inhibitor specific to MLCK) reduced shear stress-dependent SMC migration, resulting in an SMC distribution independent of fluid shear stress. These results suggest that fluid shear stress regulates SMC migration via the mediation of ERK1/2 and MLCK.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H928-H938
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2007


  • Blood flow
  • Neointima formation
  • Signaling transduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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