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Extracellular signal-regulated kinase activation and endothelin-1 production in human endothelial cells exposed to vibration

  • Charles R White
  • Mark A Haidekker
  • Hazel Y Stevens
  • John A Frangos
Blackwell Science Inc
Publication Date
Jan 09, 2004
  • Chemistry
  • Medicine
  • Physics


Hand–arm vibration syndrome is a vascular disease of occupational origin and a form of secondary Raynaud's phenomenon. Chronic exposure to hand-held vibrating tools may cause endothelial injury. This study investigates the biomechanical forces involved in the transduction of fluid vibration in the endothelium. Human endothelial cells were exposed to direct vibration and rapid low-volume fluid oscillation. Rapid low-volume fluid oscillation was used to simulate the effects of vibration by generating defined temporal gradients in fluid shear stress across an endothelial monolayer. Extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK1/2) phosphorylation and endothelin-1 (ET-1) release were monitored as specific biochemical markers for temporal gradients and endothelial response, respectively. Both vibrational methods were found to phosphorylate ERK1/2 in a similar pattern. At a fixed frequency of fluid oscillation where the duration of each pulse cycle remained constant, ERK1/2 phosphorylation increased with the increasing magnitude of the applied temporal gradient. However, when the frequency of flow oscillation was increased (thus decreasing the duration of each pulse cycle), ERK1/2 phosphorylation was attenuated across all temporal gradient flow profiles. Fluid oscillation significantly stimulated ET-1 release compared to steady flow, and endothelin-1 was also attenuated with the increase in oscillation frequency. Taken together, these results show that both the absolute magnitude of the temporal gradient and the frequency/duration of each pulse cycle play a role in the biomechanical transduction of fluid vibrational forces in endothelial cells. Furthermore, this study reports for the first time a link between the ERK1/2 signal transduction pathway and transmission of vibrational forces in the endothelium.


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