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Within the artery intima, endothelial cells respond to mechanical cues and changes in subendothelial matrix stiffness. Recently, we found that the aging subendothelial matrix stiffens heterogeneously and that stiffness heterogeneities are present on the scale of one cell length. However, the impacts of these complex mechanical micro-heterogeneities on endothelial cells have not been fully understood. Here, we simulate the effects of matrices that mimic young and aged vessels on single- and multi-cell endothelial cell models and examine the resulting cell basal strain profiles. Although there are limitations to the model which prohibit the prediction of intracellular strain distributions in alive cells, this model does introduce mechanical complexities to the subendothelial matrix material. More heterogeneous basal strain distributions are present in the single- and multi-cell models on the matrix mimicking an aged artery over those exhibited on the young artery. Overall, our data indicate that increased heterogeneous strain profiles in endothelial cells are displayed in silico when there is an increased presence of microscale arterial mechanical heterogeneities in the matrix.
Aims - Monocytes play an important role in hypertension. Circulating monocytes in humans exist as classical, intermediate, and non-classical forms. Monocyte differentiation can be influenced by the endothelium, which in turn is activated in hypertension by mechanical stretch. We sought to examine the role of increased endothelial stretch and hypertension on monocyte phenotype and function.
Methods and results - Human monocytes were cultured with confluent human aortic endothelial cells undergoing either 5% or 10% cyclical stretch. We also characterized circulating monocytes in normotensive and hypertensive humans. In addition, we quantified accumulation of activated monocytes and monocyte-derived cells in aortas and kidneys of mice with Angiotensin II-induced hypertension. Increased endothelial stretch enhanced monocyte conversion to CD14++CD16+ intermediate monocytes and monocytes bearing the CD209 marker and markedly stimulated monocyte mRNA expression of interleukin (IL)-6, IL-1β, IL-23, chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 4, and tumour necrosis factor α. STAT3 in monocytes was activated by increased endothelial stretch. Inhibition of STAT3, neutralization of IL-6 and scavenging of hydrogen peroxide prevented formation of intermediate monocytes in response to increased endothelial stretch. We also found evidence that nitric oxide (NO) inhibits formation of intermediate monocytes and STAT3 activation. In vivo studies demonstrated that humans with hypertension have increased intermediate and non-classical monocytes and that intermediate monocytes demonstrate evidence of STAT3 activation. Mice with experimental hypertension exhibit increased aortic and renal infiltration of monocytes, dendritic cells, and macrophages with activated STAT3.
Conclusions - These findings provide insight into how monocytes are activated by the vascular endothelium during hypertension. This is likely in part due to a loss of NO signalling and increased release of IL-6 and hydrogen peroxide by the dysfunctional endothelium and a parallel increase in STAT activation in adjacent monocytes. Interventions to enhance bioavailable NO, reduce IL-6 or hydrogen peroxide production or to inhibit STAT3 may have anti-inflammatory roles in hypertension and related conditions.
BACKGROUND - Global longitudinal strain (GLS), reflecting total shortening of the myocardium during the cardiac cycle, has emerged as a more precise myocardial function measure than left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF). Longitudinal strain may be selectively affected in subclinical heart disease, even in the presence of normal LVEF. This study examines subclinical cardiac dysfunction, assessed by GLS and LVEF, and cognition among older adults.
METHODS AND RESULTS - Vanderbilt Memory and Aging Project participants who were free of clinical dementia, stroke, and heart failure (n=318, 73±7 years, 58% male) completed neuropsychological assessment and cardiac magnetic resonance to quantify GLS and LVEF. Linear regression models related GLS and LVEF to neuropsychological performances, adjusting for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, Framingham Stroke Risk Profile, cognitive diagnosis, and *ε4 status. Models were repeated with a cardiac×cognitive diagnosis interaction term. Compromised GLS (reflected by higher values) related to worse naming (β=-0.07, =0.04), visuospatial immediate recall (β=-0.83, =0.03), visuospatial delayed recall (β=-0.22, =0.03), and verbal delayed recall (β=-0.11, =0.007). LVEF did not relate to worse performance on any measure (>0.18). No diagnostic interactions were observed.
CONCLUSIONS - Our study results are among the first to suggest that compromised GLS relates to worse episodic memory and language performance among older adults who are free of clinical dementia, stroke, and heart failure. Subclinical cardiac dysfunction may correlate with cognitive health in late life, even when LVEF remains normal. The results add to growing evidence that GLS may be a more sensitive and preferred method for quantifying subclinical changes in cardiac function.
© 2018 The Authors. Published on behalf of the American Heart Association, Inc., by Wiley.
Cell contraction regulates how cells sense their mechanical environment. We sought to identify the set-point of cell contraction, also referred to as tensional homeostasis. In this work, bovine aortic endothelial cells (BAECs), cultured on substrates with different stiffness, were characterized using traction force microscopy (TFM). Numerical models were developed to provide insights into the mechanics of cell-substrate interactions. Cell contraction was modeled as eigenstrain which could induce isometric cell contraction without external forces. The predicted traction stresses matched well with TFM measurements. Furthermore, our numerical model provided cell stress and displacement maps for inspecting the fundamental regulating mechanism of cell mechanosensing. We showed that cell spread area, traction force on a substrate, as well as the average stress of a cell were increased in response to a stiffer substrate. However, the cell average strain, which is cell type-specific, was kept at the same level regardless of the substrate stiffness. This indicated that the cell average strain is the tensional homeostasis that each type of cell tries to maintain. Furthermore, cell contraction in terms of eigenstrain was found to be the same for both BAECs and fibroblast cells in different mechanical environments. This implied a potential mechanical set-point across different cell types. Our results suggest that additional measurements of contractility might be useful for monitoring cell mechanosensing as well as dynamic remodeling of the extracellular matrix (ECM). This work could help to advance the understanding of the cell-ECM relationship, leading to better regenerative strategies.
BACKGROUND - Human saphenous veins used for arterial bypass undergo stretch injury at the time of harvest and preimplant preparation. Vascular injury promotes intimal hyperplasia, the leading cause of graft failure, but the molecular events leading to this response are largely unknown. This study investigated adenosine triphosphate (ATP) as a potential molecular mediator in the vascular response to stretch injury, and the downstream effects of the purinergic receptor, P2X7R, and p38 MAPK activation.
MATERIALS AND METHODS - A subfailure stretch rat aorta model was used to determine the effect of stretch injury on release of ATP and vasomotor responses. Stretch-injured tissues were treated with apyrase, the P2X7R antagonist, A438079, or the p38 MAPK inhibitor, SB203580, and subsequent contractile forces were measured using a muscle bath. An exogenous ATP (eATP) injury model was developed and the experiment repeated. Change in p38 MAPK phosphorylation after stretch and eATP tissue injury was determined using Western blotting. Noninjured tissue was incubated in the p38 MAPK activator, anisomycin, and subsequent contractile function and p38 MAPK phosphorylation were analyzed.
RESULTS - Stretch injury was associated with release of ATP. Contractile function was decreased in tissue subjected to subfailure stretch, eATP, and anisomycin. Contractile function was restored by apyrase, P2X7R antagonism, and p38-MAPK inhibition. Stretch, eATP, and anisomycin-injured tissue demonstrated increased phosphorylation of p38 MAPK.
CONCLUSIONS - Taken together, these data suggest that the vascular response to stretch injury is associated with release of ATP and activation of the P2X7R/P38 MAPK pathway, resulting in contractile dysfunction. Modulation of this pathway in vein grafts after harvest and before implantation may reduce the vascular response to injury.
Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Electrospun microfibers are attractive for the engineering of oriented tissues because they present instructive topographic and mechanical cues to cells. However, high-density microfiber networks are too cell-impermeable for most tissue applications. Alternatively, the distribution of sparse microfibers within a three-dimensional hydrogel could present instructive cues to guide cell organization while not inhibiting cell behavior. In this study, thin (∼5 fibers thick) layers of aligned microfibers (0.7 μm) were embedded within collagen hydrogels containing mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), cultured for up to 14 days, and assayed for expression of ligament markers and imaged for cell organization. These microfibers were generated through the electrospinning of polycaprolactone (PCL), poly(ester-urethane) (PEUR), or a 75/25 PEUR/PCL blend to produce microfiber networks with elastic moduli of 31, 15, and 5.6 MPa, respectively. MSCs in composites containing 5.6 MPa fibers exhibited increased expression of the ligament marker scleraxis and the contractile phenotype marker α-smooth muscle actin versus the stiffer fiber composites. Additionally, cells within the 5.6 MPa microfiber composites were more oriented compared to cells within the 15 and 31 MPa microfiber composites. Together, these data indicate that the mechanical properties of microfiber/collagen composites can be tuned for the engineering of ligament and other target tissues. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Biomed Mater Res Part A: 104A: 1894-1901, 2016.
© 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Primary dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a non-ischemic heart disease with impaired pumping function of the heart. In this study, we used human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (iPSC-CMs) from a healthy volunteer and a primary DCM patient to investigate the impact of DCM on iPSC-CMs׳ responses to different types of anisotropic strain. A bioreactor system was established that generates cardiac-mimetic forces of 150 kPa at 5% anisotropic cyclic strain and 1 Hz frequency. After confirming cardiac induction of the iPSCs, it was determined that fibronectin was favorable to other extracellular matrix protein coatings (gelatin, laminin, vitronectin) in terms of viable cell area and density, and was therefore selected as the coating for further study. When iPSC-CMs were exposed to three strain conditions (no strain, 5% static strain, and 5% cyclic strain), the static strain elicited significant induction of sarcomere components in comparison to other strain conditions. However, this induction occurred only in iPSC-CMs from a healthy volunteer ("control iPSC-CMs"), not in iPSC-CMs from the DCM patient ("DCM iPSC-CMs"). The donor type also significantly influenced gene expressions of cell-cell and cell-matrix interaction markers in response to the strain conditions. Gene expression of connexin-43 (cell-cell interaction) had a higher fold change in healthy versus diseased iPSC-CMs under static and cyclic strain, as opposed to integrins α-5 and α-10 (cell-matrix interaction). In summary, our iPSC-CM-based study to model the effects of different strain conditions suggests that intrinsic, genetic-based differences in the cardiomyocyte responses to strain may influence disease manifestation in vivo.
Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Bone grafts used to repair weight-bearing tibial plateau fractures often experience cyclic loading, and there is a need for bone graft substitutes that prevent failure of fixation and subsequent morbidity. However, the specific mechanical properties required for resorbable grafts to optimize structural compatibility with native bone have yet to be established. While quasi-static tests are utilized to assess weight-bearing ability, compressive strength alone is a poor indicator of in vivo performance. In the present study, we investigated the effects of interfacial bonding on material properties under conditions that re-capitulate the cyclic loading associated with weight-bearing fractures. Dynamic compressive fatigue properties of polyurethane (PUR) composites made with either unmodified (U-) or polycaprolactone surface-modified (PCL-) 45S5 bioactive glass (BG) particles were compared to a commercially available calcium sulfate and phosphate-based (CaS/P) bone cement at physiologically relevant stresses (5-30 MPa). Fatigue resistance of PCL-BG/polymer composite was superior to that of the U-BG/polymer composite and the CaS/P cement at higher stress levels for each of the fatigue failure criteria, related to modulus, creep, and maximum displacement, and was comparable to human trabecular bone. Steady state creep and damage accumulation occurred during the fatigue life of the PCL-BG/polymer and CaS/P cement, whereas creep of U-BG/polymer primarily occurred at a low number of loading cycles. From crack propagation testing, fracture toughness or resistance to crack growth was significantly higher for the PCL-BG composite than for the other materials. Finally, the fatigue and fracture toughness properties were intermediate between those of trabecular and cortical bone. These findings highlight the potential of PCL-BG/polyurethane composites as weight-bearing bone grafts.
Published by Elsevier Ltd.
Biomaterial substrates composed of semi-aligned electrospun fibers are attractive supports for the regeneration of connective tissues because the fibers are durable under cyclic tensile loads and can guide cell adhesion, orientation, and gene expression. Previous studies on supported electrospun substrates have shown that both fiber diameter and mechanical deformation can independently influence cell morphology and gene expression. However, no studies have examined the effect of mechanical deformation and fiber diameter on unsupported meshes. Semi-aligned large (1.75 μm) and small (0.60 μm) diameter fiber meshes were prepared from degradable elastomeric poly(esterurethane urea) (PEUUR) meshes and characterized by tensile testing and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Next, unsupported meshes were aligned between custom grips (with the stretch axis oriented parallel to axis of fiber alignment), seeded with C3H10T1/2 cells, and subjected to a static load (50 mN, adjusted daily), a cyclic load (4% strain at 0.25 Hz for 30 min, followed by a static tensile loading of 50 mN, daily), or no load. After 3 days of mechanical stimulation, confocal imaging was used to characterize cell shape, while measurements of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) content and messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) expression were used to characterize cell retention on unsupported meshes and expression of the connective tissue phenotype. Mechanical testing confirmed that these materials deform elastically to at least 10%. Cells adhered to unsupported meshes under all conditions and aligned with the direction of fiber orientation. Application of static and cyclic loads increased cell alignment. Cell density and mRNA expression of connective tissue proteins were not statistically different between experimental groups. However, on large diameter fiber meshes, static loading slightly elevated tenomodulin expression relative to the no load group, and tenascin-C and tenomodulin expression relative to the cyclic load group. These results demonstrate the feasibility of maintaining cell adhesion and alignment on semi-aligned fibrous elastomeric substrates under different mechanical conditions. The study confirms that cell morphology is sensitive to the mechanical environment and suggests that expression of select connective tissue genes may be enhanced on large diameter fiber meshes under static tensile loads.
The mTOR and Hippo pathways have recently emerged as the major signaling transduction cascades regulating organ size and cellular homeostasis. However, direct crosstalk between two pathways is yet to be determined. Here, we demonstrate that mTORC2 is a direct negative regulator of the MST1 kinase, a key component of the Hippo pathway. mTORC2 phosphorylates MST1 at serine 438 in the SARAH domain, thereby reducing its homodimerization and activity. We found that Rictor/mTORC2 preserves cardiac structure and function by restraining the activity of MST1 kinase. Cardiac-specific mTORC2 disruption through Rictor deletion leads to a marked activation of MST1 that, in turn, promotes cardiac dysfunction and dilation, impairing cardiac growth and adaptation in response to pressure overload. In conclusion, our study demonstrates the existence of a direct crosstalk between mTORC2 and MST1 that is critical for cardiac cell survival and growth.
Copyright © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.