This review places modern research developments in vascular mechanobiology in the context of hemodynamic phenomena in the cardiovascular system and the discrete localization of vascular disease. The modern origins of this field are traced, beginning in the 1960s when associations between flow characteristics, particularly blood flow–induced wall shear stress, and the localization of atherosclerotic plaques were uncovered, and continuing to fluid shear stress effects on the vascular lining endothelial cells (ECs), including their effects on EC morphology, biochemical production, and gene expression. The earliest single-gene studies and genome-wide analyses are considered. The final section moves from the ECs lining the vessel wall to the smooth muscle cells and fibroblasts within the wall that are fluid mechanically activated by interstitial flow that imposes shear stresses on their surfaces comparable with those of flowing blood on EC surfaces. Interstitial flow stimulates biochemical production and gene expression, much like blood flow on ECs.


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