Increase of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in Endothelial cells by shear flow and involvement of ROS in shear-induced c-fos expression

Hsyue Jen Hsieh, Chia Chen Cheng, Shing T.A. Wu, Jeng Jiann Chiu, Being Sun Wung, Danny L. Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

159 Citations (Scopus)


Intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) may participate in cellular responses to various stimuli including hemodynamic forces and act as signal transduction messengers. Human umbilical vein endothelial cells (ECs) were subjected to laminar shear flow with shear stress of 15, 25, or 40 dynes/cm2 in a parallel plate flow chamber to demonstrate the potential role of ROS in shear-induced cellular response. The use of 2',7'-dichlorofluorescin diacetate (DCFH-DA) to measure ROS levels in ECs indicated that shear flow for 15 minutes resulted in a 0.5- to 1.5-fold increase in intracellular ROS. The levels remained elevated under shear flow conditions for 2 hours when compared to unsheared controls. The shear-induced elevation of ROS was blocked by either antioxidant N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) or catalase. An iron chelator, deferoxamine mesylate, also significantly reduced the ROS elevation. A similar inhibitory effect was seen with a hydroxyl radical (.OH) scavenger, 1,3-dimethyl-2-thiourea (DMTU), suggesting that hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), .OH, and possibly other ROS molecules in ECs were modulated by shear flow. Concomitantly, a 1.3-fold increase of decomposition of exogenously added H2O2 was observed in extracts from ECs sheared for 60 minutes. This antioxidant activity, abolished by a catalase inhibitor (3-amino-1,2,4-triazole), was primarily due to the catalase. The effect of ROS on intracellular events was examined in c-fos gene expression which was previously shown to be shear inducible. Decreasing ROS levels by antioxidant (NAC or catalase) significantly reduced the induction of c-fos expression in sheared ECs. We demonstrate for the first time that shear force can modulate intracellular ROS levels and antioxidant activity in ECs. Furthermore, the ROS generation is involved in mediating shear-induced c-fos expression. Our study illustrates the importance of ROS in the response and adaptation of ECs to shear flow.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156-162
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Cellular Physiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 1 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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