Microvascular permeability to water is independent of shear stress, but dependent on flow direction

R. H. Adamson, R. K. Sarai, A. Altangerel, J. F. Clark, S. Weinbaum, F. E. Curry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Endothelial cells in a cultured monolayer change from a "cobblestone" configuration when grown under static conditions to a more elongated shape, aligned with the direction of flow, after exposure to sustained uniform shear stress. Sustained blood flow acts to protect regions of large arteries from injury. We tested the hypothesis that the stable permeability state of individually perfused microvessels is also characteristic of flow conditioning. In individually perfused rat mesenteric venular microvessels, microvascular permeability, measured as hydraulic conductivity (Lp), was stable [mean 1.0 × 10-7 cm/(s × cmH2O)] and independent of shear stress (3-14 dyn/cm2) for up to 3 h. Vessels perfused opposite to the direction of normal blood flow exhibited a delayed Lp increase [ΔLp was 7.6 × 10-7 cm/(s × cmH2O)], but the increase was independent of wall shear stress. Addition of chondroitin sulfate and hyaluronic acid to perfusates increased the shear stress range, but did not modify the asymmetry in response to flow direction. Increased Lp in reverse-perfused vessels was associated with numerous discontinuities of VE-cadherin and occludin, while both proteins were continuous around the periphery of forward-perfused vessels. The results are not consistent with a general mechanism for graded shear-dependent permeability increase, but they are consistent with the idea that a stable Lp under normal flow contributes to prevention of edema formation and also enables physiological regulation of shear-dependent small solute permeabilities (e.g., glucose). The responses during reverse flow are consistent with reports that disturbed flows result in a less stable endothelial barrier in venular microvessels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2013


  • Endothelium
  • Shear stress
  • Vascular permeability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Medicine(all)


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