Heparan sulfate proteoglycan is a mechanosensor on endothelial cells.

Jeffry A. Florian, Jason R. Kosky, Kristy Ainslie, Zhengyu Pang, Randal O. Dull, John M. Tarbell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

495 Scopus citations


The objective of this study was to test whether a glycosaminoglycan component of the surface glycocalyx layer is a fluid shear stress sensor on endothelial cells (ECs). Because enhanced nitric oxide (NO) production in response to fluid shear stress is a characteristic and physiologically important response of ECs, we evaluated NOx (NO2- and NO3-) production in response to fluid shear stress after enzymatic removal of heparan sulfate, the dominant glycosaminoglycan of the EC glycocalyx, from cultured ECs. The significant NOx production induced by steady shear stress (20 dyne/cm2) was inhibited completely by pretreatment with 15 mU/mL heparinase III (E.C. for 2 hours. Oscillatory shear stress (10+/-15 dyne/cm2) induced an even greater NOx production than steady shear stress that was completely inhibited by pretreatment with heparinase III. Addition of bradykinin (BK) induced significant NOx production that was not inhibited by heparinase pretreatment, demonstrating that the cells were still able to produce abundant NO after heparinase treatment. Fluorescent imaging with a heparan sulfate antibody revealed that heparinase III treatments removed a substantial fraction of the heparan sulfate bound to the surfaces of ECs. In summary, these experiments demonstrate that a heparan sulfate component of the EC glycocalyx participates in mechanosensing that mediates NO production in response to shear stress. The full text of this article is available online at http://www.circresaha.org.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e136-142
JournalCirculation research
Issue number10
StatePublished - Nov 14 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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