Role of blood shear stress in the regulation of vascular smooth muscle cell migration

Shu Q. Liu*, Jeremy Goldman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Smooth muscle cell (SMC) migration from the media to the intima of blood vessels contributes to neointimal formation and atherogenesis. Here, we demonstrate how blood shear stress regulates vascular SMC migration in the encapsulating tissue of a micro-cylinder implanted in the center of the rat vena cava with the micro-cylinder perpendicular to blood flow. In this model, the micro-cylinder was exposed to a laminar flow with a known shear stress field in the leading region and a vortex flow in the trailing region. After surgery, the micro-cylinder was encapsulated by a thrombus-like tissue within one day, followed by SMC migration from the vena cava to the encapsulating tissue from day 3 to 20. SMC migration was time-dependent with a peak migration speed at day 5. At each given time (excluding day 1), blood shear stress exerts an inhibitory effect on SMC migration with significantly suppressed SMC migration in the laminar flow region than in the stagnation, separation, and vortex flow regions. SMCs were relatively parallel to the shear stress direction in high shear stress regions, whereas perpendicular to the shear stress direction in low shear stress regions. These results suggest that blood shear stress plays a role in regulating SMC migration and orientation in this model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)474-483
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 23 2001


  • Endothelial cell migration
  • Intimal hyperplasia
  • Vortex flow

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering

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