front: Samir Ghadiali, Linda Lowe-Krentz and Daniel Ou-Yang
back: Hannah Dailey, Angela Lengel, Theon Francis, Jeff Park, Meron Mengistu, Laura Ricles
Linda Lowe-Krentz, Ph.D.
Daniel Ou-Yang, Ph.D.
Samir Ghadiali, Ph.D.
Biologists have made great strides in understanding organism function at the cellular and molecular level. However, we know very little about how physical and/or biomechanical forces alter cell function. The goal of this study is to determine how different biomechanical forces alter the mechanical and structural properties of cells. We will focus on endothelial cells which line blood vessel walls and experience a variety of flow-induced forces. We hypothesize that these forces will alter the cell’s cytoskeletal structure and mechanical properties. Cultured endothelial cells will be exposed to various flow conditions, optical techniques will be used to monitor changes in cytoskeletal structure and cell mechanics and computational models will be used to analyze experimental results. We hypothesize that global forces like laminar flow and chemical stresses will result in ordered increases in the actin cytoskeletal network, while localized forces will cause increased, but structurally different actin cytoskeletal changes. Knowledge of how biomechanical forces influence cell function may lead to a better understanding of the different disease conditions that are characterized by cellular dysfunction (i.e. atherosclerosis).