Atherosclerosis is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in the developed world. This disease is identified by endothelial dysfunction, inflammation and the accumulation of lipids and cellular elements within the intima of medium and large-sized arteries. Within these arteries, the distribution of atherosclerotic lesions is non-uniform; the inner wall of curved sections and the outer walls of bifurcations are susceptible sites. Evidence suggests that the focal nature of the disease is mediated in part by local fluid mechanical stresses at the interface between flowing blood and the vessel wall. Strategically located at this interface is the monolayer of cells known as the endothelium. Although it was once considered to be an inert cell layer, the endothelium is a highly complex and metabolically dynamic cell layer. As a result, local fluid mechanical stresses at the wall of arteries may alter the phenotype of endothelial cells (ECs). With that in mind, the aim of this study is to better characterize the modulation of the endothelial cell phenotype in response to blood flow induced wall shear stress (WSS).

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