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Research Article

Cyclic strain upregulates nitric oxide synthase in cultured bovine aortic endothelial cells.

M A Awolesi, W C Sessa and B E Sumpio

Department of Surgery, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06510, USA.

Published September 1995

In vivo, endothelial cells (EC) are subjected to hemodynamic forces which may influence the production of nitric oxide. This study was designed to examine the effect of cyclic strain on the expression of endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) in cultured bovine aortic EC. EC were grown on flexible membranes which were subjected to deformation at 60 cycles/min with -5 or -20 kPa of vacuum. This results in an average strain of 6 and 10%, respectively, which is transmitted to the attached cells. Northern blot analysis of total cytosolic RNA demonstrated an increase in eNOS gene expression with both strain regimens but the increase with 10% average strain was greater than that at 6%. Nuclear runoff transcription assays confirmed the induction of eNOS transcripts. Western blot analysis showed an increase in eNOS level after 24 h of cyclic 10% average strain compared with controls or 6% average strain. Immunohistochemical staining of EC for eNOS was increased in the high strain periphery (7-24% strain) of membranes deformed with -20 kPa vacuum. These results demonstrate that cyclic strain upregulates the expression of eNOS transcripts and protein levels in bovine aortic EC thus emphasizing the importance of hemodynamic forces in the regulation of eNOS in vivo.

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