Previous studies have shown a substantial effect of shear stress on endothelial phenotype and functions such as production of nitric oxide, secretion of growth factors, inflammatory responses, production of reactive oxygen species, permeability to macromolecules and cytoskeletal remodeling [1–3]. However, the dynamics of the endothelial adaptive response to changes in shear stress are largely unknown. The response of vascular endothelial cells to alterations in shear stress is an essential component of normal endothelial physiology, since local shear stress can be altered in vivo by the global hemodynamic changes that are caused by daily activities such as exercise, sleep, smoking and stress. The duration of these changes ranges from minutes to hours. When adapting to the altered shear stress, endothelial cells undergo a series of structural remodeling and morphological changes, and a transient alteration of endothelial phenotype will be induced. An understanding of the transient regulation of endothelial phenotype will not only improve our knowledge of normal endothelial physiology but also yield insights into mechanisms underlying atherogenesis.

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