Vascular smooth muscle cell glycocalyx influences shear stress-mediated contractile response

Kristy M. Ainslie, Jeffrey S. Garanich, Randal O. Dull, John M. Tarbell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


This study addressed the influence of the rate of shear stress application on aortic smooth muscle cell (SMC) contraction and the role of specific glycosaminoglycans in this mechanotransduction. Rat aortic SMCs were exposed to either a step increase in shear stress (0 to 25 dyn/cm2) or a ramp increase in shear stress (0 to 25 dyn/cm2 over 5 min) in a parallel plate flow chamber, and cell contraction was characterized by cell area reduction. SMCs contracted at levels similar to those reported previously and equally in response to both a step and ramp increase in shear stress. When the cells were pretreated with heparinase III or chondroitinase ABC to remove the glycosaminoglycans heparan sulfate and chondroitin sulfate, respectively, from the glycocalyx, the contraction response to increases in shear stress was significantly inhibited. These studies indicate that specific components of the SMC glycocalyx play an important role in the mechanotransduction of shear stress into a contractile response and that the rate of application of shear stress does not affect the SMC contraction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)242-249
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2005


  • Glycosaminoglycans
  • Myogenic response

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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