Om Makwana, Hannah Flockton, Gary P. Watters, Rizwan Nisar, Gina A. Smith, Wanda Fields and Betsy Bombick
Although chronic progressive cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis are often challenging to fully model in vitro, it has been shown that certain in vitro methods can effectively evaluate some aspects of disease progression. This has been demonstrated in in vitro and in vivo studies of endothelial cells that have illustrated the effects of nitric oxide (NO) production, filamentous actin (F-actin) formation, and cell and actin angle alignment on vascular function and homeostasis. Systems utilising shear flow have been established, in order to create a physiologically relevant environment for cells that require shear flow for homeostasis. Here, we investigated the use of a well-plate microfluidic system and associated devices (0–20dyn/cm2) to demonstrate applied shear effects on primary Human Aortic Endothelial Cells (HAECs). Changes in cell and actin alignment in the direction of flow, real-time production of NO and gross cell membrane shape changes in response to physiological shear flow were observed. These commercial systems have a range of potential applications, including within the consumer and pharmaceutical industries, thereby reducing the dependency on animal testing for regulatory safety assessments.