Endothelial cell response to the complex hemodynamic environment of the circulatory system is critical to the pathophysiological regulation of the cardiovascular system; however the mechanism by which this mechanical signal is transduced remains poorly understood. Recent in vivo evidence suggests that cells are capable of responding locally to shear stress, on the length scale of a single cell. Because of the complexity of the in vivo environment, we have designed and characterized an in vitro microchannel chamber with well-defined rheological conditions. This system is being used to investigate endothelial cell signaling response to shear stress, thereby bridging the gap between in vivo and in vitro observations.

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